‘Major investment’ planned in South Oxfordshire budget

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Positive budget proposals which include lowering council tax and investment affecting Thame residents go before councillors next week.

South Oxfordshire District Council says people will benefit from ‘major investments’ in infrastructure, broadband, community projects and car parks, if the 2013/14 budget gets the green light.

Included in the proposals is the second council tax decrease in as many years. The 2.5% reduction would mean people living in a Band D property will pay £117.62 for services provided by the district council.

Councillor David Dodds, the council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “Thanks to very careful management of our finances we can continue to make substantial sums available to improve our towns and community facilities across South Oxfordshire, while reducing the amount that residents pay for our first class services at the same time.

“Over the coming months many people will benefit from funding allocated to community led projects, while we are also making more resources available to supporting communities which are planning for the future.”

Included in the budget is £500,000 in both 2013/14 and 2014/15 to support improving broadband coverage.

An extra £500,000 will also be added to the community grant budget, meaning £1 million in grants will be available each year to support community projects like improvements to village halls and children’s play areas.

If given the green light, a £75,000 investment will be provided over each of the next two years to help create new seating areas and provide better signage in towns and larger villages, while £250,000 will go towards projects to help make Didcot town centre more visually attractive to visitors.

The budget also includes money to pay for upgrades to car parks, including new ticket machines and signage. There would also be £1 million to help people get on the housing ladder through the Local Authority Mortgage Loan Scheme.

Cabinet members will meet on Valentine’s Day to discuss the plans. If approved they will then be discussed by full council on February 21.