Essex Approve £2bn Budget

Essex County Council has revealed it's 2011-12 budget as well as 10 new priorities to focus on communities and encourage the Big Society idea.

There were no protests outside County Hall - Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Councils all saw angry demonstrations over the cuts being made there.

The authority is freezing Council Tax, but cutting Home-to-school transport and Connexions, as well as making around 450 staff redundant.

Talking after the Council meeting, at which the £2.1bn budget was agreed, Essex County Council Leader Peter Martin said: "I am very proud that during these difficult times we have managed to avoid some of the public's worst fears and are continuing to invest as much as we can in the services they cherish, for example we are not closing libraries or removing meals on wheels."

"Our new pledges show our commitment to continuing to invest in good quality services and have taken on board the feedback residents gave us about their priorities and invested in those areas."

"This year will be one unlike any other for local government but it does bring exciting opportunities for us to think more creatively and to find smarter ways to work. The EssexWorks pledges this year are focused on enabling our partners, communities and individuals to take more control over the services they receive. A Big Society thread runs through each of our priorities and we want to make it possible for individuals to influence decisions in their communities."

The new EssexWorks pledges are:

  • Put our customers first by increasing the volume and scope of customer transactions carried out on-line by more than 20%
  • Deliver value for money by saving £50M from back office and procurement processes in 2011/12
  • Support vulnerable adults by protecting the independence of people with dementia or their carers by increasing the uptake of personal budgets or use of technology by a minimum of 20%
  • Support vulnerable children by increasing the proportion of children in care who are supported in a family environment
  • Increase educational achievement and skills by working with and supporting schools to help them deliver sustainable improvements in English and Maths at all age ranges
  • Maintain and improve the highway network by investing £4M to fix potholes and other damage to restore our road network to its pre-2010/11 winter condition
  • Make communities safer by enabling them to reduce anti-social behaviour and fear of crime through 12 local community engagement schemes and projects
  • Promote stainable economic growth by investing at least £1m to help Essex firms create jobs and take advantage of new market opportunities, including supporting 250 new apprenticeships
  • Enhance the environment and reduce and recycle waste by holding 100 'Love where you live' events with local communities to create a cleaner, greener Essex  
  • Promote public health and wellbeing by providing 150 more sport and health related activities for 30,000 Young People in both schools and their local communities

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