The York Council will consider tomorrow adding over £20 million to its debt burden.
The cost to taxpayers of paying interest and redemption charges on the extra borrowing is put at £1.4 million a year.
The Council says that the costs of the new Knapton forest will now be met from “external sources”. It is therefore switching that expenditure into buying electric vehicles and associated charging facilities at a cost of over £5 million.
£100,000 will fund an “access barrier review”. This is thought to be a response to a section of the cycle lobby which is opposed to the use of safety barriers where they slow cycle movements. While an audit of infrastructure standards and repair works on the York cycle network is long overdue, concentration of limited resources on the relatively trivial barrier issue reflects poor prioritisation.
£1.1 million will be spent repairing Lendal Bridge while £1 million is reserved for the – more than slightly opaque – “COVID recovery fund”.
Probably the most controversial proposal is the plan to cut another £3.2 million from highways maintenance. This is the fund which is used to reconstruct road and path surfaces. It is a long-term investment which gives carriageways a 30 year plus lifespan. In turn this minimises the risk of frost damage. The large number of potholes which we have seen on the highway network recently suggests reconstruction should be a high priority.
. The cut in the highways maintenance budget is partly justified by officials who point to the £5 million being paid by central government for the resurfacing of Tadcaster Road (for the second time in less than a year). The resurfacing will not provide any additional benefit for road users.
Money is being transferred from highways resurfacing to fund the Council’s £2 million contribution to the Fordlands Road flood alleviation scheme. This is the scheme which should have been completed, and funded, as part of the recent improvements to the A19 in Fulford.
The report points out that there could still be further costs to be added to the budget as work on York Central, the Guildhall, Castle Gateway and dualling the outer ring road proceeds.
A copy of the proposed programme can be viewed by clicking here