MK Council will spend over £2.5m on tackling climate change next year with proposals to introduce low cost bus travel, create new woodlands and establish wildlife corridors across the city.
The plans are part of the consultation due to be launched today on the MK Council budget for next year that will also see an extra £2m spent cleaning up the city and £4m on tackling homelessness.
MK Labour’s Green Revolution proposals include:
Plans to introduce a new low cost public transport scheme for 16 – 21 year olds;
Proposals to plant 2000 new trees, create new woodland and replace diseased and dangerous trees;
Funding to create wildlife corridors, green roofs and to support recommendations from a city-wide Climate Change Task Force.
The budget also focusses heavily on “Getting the Basics Right,” with proposals including:
Over £1m to improve the city centre;
Extra funding for cleaning litter hotspots, tackling fly-tipping and clearing overgrown weeds;
£4m extra money for homelessness;
More cash for fixing potholes and a new resurfacing scheme for redways;
New funding to tackle anti-social behaviour, more CCTV and combat knife crime.
The majority of the money for spending is from “one-off,” resources due to a small surplus generated by good financial management over the past five years and a slightly higher level of one-off term funding from the government than expected.
The Council is still expecting it’s overall budget to be cut by an additional £6m in 2020/21 on top of the £170m in cuts already imposed by central government and the council is proposing to:
Increase in Council Tax by 3.49%, below the 4% the government wants councils to apply;
Make savings totalling £6m in efficiencies and pre-planned spending reductions.
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council said:
“We promised that tackling the climate emergency would be top of our list and we have proposed a “Green Revolution,” budget for MK Council to start the process of meeting the very challenging ambition of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030, focussing on things we can do quickly like creating new woodland, wildlife corridors and introducing green rooves on bus shelters and porte cocheres.
We are also going to introduce a low cost public transport scheme for 16 – 21 year olds as a trial to see if we can decrease dependency on the car, reduce the number of short car journeys and cut emissions. It was a key manifesto pledge last May.”
“However we know that after a decade of austerity most people will say “but what about getting the basics that I care about right, why aren’t you spending money on that?” and we agree, so we are doing both. We are proposing new money to clean up litter hotspots, tackle fly-tipping, and cut back overgrown weeds and brambles.
We want to spend an extra £1m next year on improving our city centre to ensure it continues to be a place businesses want to come, invest and create well paid jobs, and we will continue to improve highways with more money for fixing potholes and a new redway resurfacing programme.
It is also essential we find an extra £4m for tacking homelessness in the city, which will continue to support people made homeless and provide on-going resources for meeting our commitment that every rough-sleeper can access long term accommodation and support if they need it.”
“Sadly the majority of this funding is one-off, meaning we can only spend it once rather than every year, and we are only able to do so thanks to five years of a competent Labour administration. We still have to find £6m in cuts to our overall budget on top of the £170m we’ve had to make, and although we are increasing council tax by 3.49%, it is below the 4% the government have said we should impose. Households in Labour-run Milton Keynes still pay on average £120 less than in surrounding Tory councils, and we haven’t closed a single library, children’s centre and saved weekly bin collections.
It was telling how many people during the recent General Election told us that they felt the local council was really well-run despite the national situation, and now because of our competent work we are able to invest in the priorities people have told us to; the climate emergency, getting the basics right; homelessness and helping make MK safer.”