TENS of millions of pounds has been ringfenced for major projects to improve Oxfordshire's roads, schools and public services.

Oxfordshire County Council has published its draft budget for 2020/21, which would see a 3.99 per cent council tax rise for residents - 1.99 per cent plus a further two per cent rise in the precept for adult social care.

This is the maximum increase it can implement without a referendum, and would put tax for a Band D property at £1,527.44, an increase of £58.61 on last year.

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The biggest chunks of the budget include a £30m increase in funding for child and adult social services, £30m for repairs to roads, bridges, drainage and footpaths, an additional £50 million over 10 years for school repairs and new schools, £32 million on an A40 bus lane and park and ride, and £40m over five years for more energy-efficient street lighting.

Although a government response about funding is pending, £53m is also being budgeted to replace Kennington Bridge in Oxford - more than the £40m estimated back in July.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said: "We want to do much more than simply manage the growing demand for council services – we want to help all our communities in Oxfordshire to thrive.

"That means addressing the real causes of that demand for our services so children have the best start in life and older and disabled people can live as independently as possible.

"We will redesign services with a greater emphasis on preventing problems before they happen."

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He described the plans as an 'investment budget', with spending in certain areas expected to see savings in later years.

This includes a £1.8m investment in informal care networks in communities, to help older and disabled people live independently.

The proposals will be considered by the council's Performance Scrutiny Committee at a meeting tomorrow, and the final say will be had at a full council meeting on February 11.

Members of the public can also submit their opinions via a public consultation on the authority's website, which opened on Monday and closes on January 29.

Mr Hudspeth said: "By grasping this opportunity to invest now, we are being ambitious about improving outcomes for residents and communities in the future.

"There remains a lot of uncertainty about funding for local authorities by the government in the longer term, but I am convinced this investment budget gives us the best chance of managing our finances during the uncertain times ahead."

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The £30m for road and path improvements includes repairs to Oxford Road in Banbury, Northcourt Road in Abingdon, and Burwell Drive and West End in Witney.

Conservative councillor Mr Hudspeth said: "I know that residents want us to continue to invest in our roads and transport infrastructure – both maintenance and improving how they work for roads users, including for bus journeys, cycling and walking.

"This is an important part of our overall commitment to reducing carbon and getting really serious about climate change."

The county council has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2030, and the budget report said this ambition 'influences everything we do'.

Some of the projects budgeted for include:

  • £30m for road and transport improvements including major schemes in: Oxford Road in Banbury, Northcourt Road in Abingdon, and Burwell Drive and West End in Witney
  • £40m over five years to replace 56,000 street lighting bulbs with new LED technology, to 'drastically' cut the amount the council pays for electricity and 'greatly reduce' its carbon footprint
  • £32m on A40 bus lane and park and ride. This follows a successful £102 million bid for government funding for the same project
  • £6.5m to improve Botley Road, as part of wider £9.5m scheme
  • £53m to replace Kennington Bridge and incorporate culverts for the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme, largely funded by a £30m government grant if successful
  • £3m per year to improve road safety and accessibility, including new pedestrian crossings, improved junctions and better bus stops
  • £2.3m for a new approach to support troubled families
  • £1m investment in internal fostering services to increase the number of local foster carers
  • £1.8m for 'community networks' and alternatives to formal care, to help communities help the most vulnerable
  • Additional £7.4m a year to expand services for people with learning disabilities, mental health, and autism
  • Further £2.8m to improve housing support for people with mental health issues and/or autism
  • Additional £0.2m to tackle obesity
  • £0.3m for vegetation clearing to ensure road signs are properly visible