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  1. Published on: 14/02/2020 06:59 AMReported by: roving-eye
    A package of measures to improve roads, bus services and libraries has been announced by Lancashire County Council as the authority set it's budget for the coming financial year.

    An extra £5m is to be invested into the county's road network, and £1m will be spent on additional signage and markings to keep roads safe.

    There will also be extra investment in the bus network, with £1.5m to be spent next year, rising to £3m recurrently from 2021/22 to help the reinstatement of services.

    There was also good news for the county's museums, with an annual £936,000 confirmed for the running of Queen Street Mill in Briercliffe and Helmshore Textile Mills, helping to ensure their long term future.

    Libraries are set to benefit from a £500,000 investment in new books next year, while the Armed Forces Covenant Hub, which provides help and support for veterans, will also receive £100,000, ensuring it will continue to run once its funding ceases in the summer.

    A further £2.7m over the next four years will be invested to support youngsters with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). Additional staff will be recruited to bring the council's resources in this area into the upper quartile of comparable local authorities.

    Parish councils will also be able to claim up to £500 from the county council towards clearing and cleaning up rights of way, to ensure people are able to get out and about and enjoy the county's beautiful countryside.

    A commitment was also made to support extra care schemes for older people in the county and carry out a review to see how care leavers could be supported in the appropriate accommodation.

    The measures were approved at a meeting of the council's full council this afternoon.
    Members also voted to support an increase in Council Tax of 3.99 per cent, with 2 per cent of the increase ring-fenced to be spent on adult social care.

    County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, Leader of the County Council, said: "This budget shows how the council is committed to the issues which residents feel strongly about.

    "We know that people want to see extra investment in the county's roads, library services and bus services.

    "I am also pleased that money will be used to support our museums in Briercliffe and Helmshore, as well as veterans through our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. We aim to make Lancashire the best place in the UK for members of the armed forces community to live.

    "As a council we are committed to supporting the most vulnerable, with money being used to support children and young people with SEND and care leavers, as well as extra funding going to adult social care..

    "In 2017, we faced a deficit of £200m, which meant we had to take some big decisions.
    "Whilst we still have a lot of work to do, we have managed to put the council on a solid and sustainable financial base, which means that we can now invest in important council services for the benefit of Lancashire people."

    Based on the current forecast, the council will not need to use any financial reserves to support its revenue budget in 2020/21.

    According to the most-likely funding scenario, the county council's funding gap is forecast to be £33.299m by 2023/24, which is a significant reduction from the previous forecast gap of £65m by 2022/23. Overall the revenue budget for 2020/21 is £844.851m.

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