Lincolnshire County Council has approved a 5% increase in its council tax precept, stating its executive ‘had little choice’ to put this and reserves towards plugging a £12 million gap in government roads funding.
The authority’s executive committee met on Tuesday to discuss the final budget proposals before they go to full council on Friday, February 18.
The council had hoped pleas from its leaders would see the government change its mind on cutting the Lincolnshire roads budget by 25%.
Lincolnshire County Council has argued that a cut this severe, equalling around £12 million, would mean miles of road could be left without proper repair, and thousands of potholes will not be able to be filled in.
Part of the new proposals agreed will see a 2% increase in general council tax, in addition to the previously announced 3% rise to generate £9.6 million for social care. This equates to a total 5% rise in council tax in April, should full council approve the plans.
The council says that this extra tax is needed to help cover an expected £13.5 million increase in costs for the next financial year. Despite this, council leaders say Lincolnshire will pay the second lowest county council tax in the country.
Councillor Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We know road repairs are a priority for residents and have always done our best to protect the highways maintenance budget from cuts. However, despite lobbying from both the council and Lincolnshire’s MPs, it looks like the government will not be reinstating the £12 million they cut from our highways grant last year.
“As a result, the executive has little choice but to propose a 2% increase in general council tax to help make up the shortfall. Despite this, we will still need to use £2.3 million from our reserves over the coming year in order to balance the books.
“It remains true that, even with this additional 2% increase, the people of Lincolnshire will pay the second lowest county council tax in the whole country.
“We’re disappointed that local taxpayers are again being left to foot the bill, especially when the government raises billions each year through fuel duty and road tax. So we’ll continue our fight to ensure Lincolnshire gets fairer funding in future.”
Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said: “The lack of action from government and the Department for Transport is shocking. Our 5,500-mile road network is crucial to the livelihoods of residents and businesses.
“However, we simply aren’t getting the money we need to bring our roads up to the standard that people in Lincolnshire deserve. Instead, we have 660 miles of crumbling roads classed as being in poor or very poor condition.
“It’s disappointing that we’re being forced to fill this funding gap with money that could go towards improving other vital services instead.
“But if we don’t step in, there would be 24,000 potholes left unfilled and 37 miles of failing carriageway not rebuilt, leading to unplanned roadworks, a drop in road network resilience and the local economy taking a hit.
“But the fight isn’t over, and we encourage everyone to show their support by visiting our campaign webpage and writing to their local MP to demand better funding for our roads.”