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Budget for 2020-21 set for cross-council backing

Proposals for Middlesbrough Council’s 2020-21 budget look set to secure backing from across the political divide.

Independent Mayor Andy Preston and the opposition Labour Group this week reached agreement over a number of key areas, paving the way for the budget to be given the green light.

The move follows a major consultation exercise which has seen thousands of local residents give their views on spending commitments and service priorities.

The proposals will be discussed by the Council’s Executive next Tuesday (February 18), ahead of final consideration by full Council later this month.

The report sets out a Council Tax increase of 3.99 per cent, alongside plans to achieve savings of more than £6 million.

Consultation – including public surveys and meetings, social media engagement and views from partners – generated thousands of responses which were used to inform the process.

The final list of proposals sees cuts to frequency of grass cutting and street cleansing, lollipop patrols and Middlesbrough Environment City removed.

Cleaning services will not be outsourced to the private sector, and charging for green waste collections has been removed.

A move to fortnightly bin collections is also now on hold to allow for a full review of the waste collection and recycling service.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “I’m really pleased that so many people and politicians of all parties and groups have submitted their ideas and proposals as part of this process.

“It shows that we really do listen, and we will take people’s views on board wherever possible.

“No-one is ever going to get everything they want, but this is genuinely the best way forward for everyone in Middlesbrough.

“What we’ve managed to do is to assimilate everyone’s opinions and come up with a budget that will give most people some of what they want.

“I’m very optimistic that it will have broad approval across the Council – of course there will always be a minority that will vote against it because they see their role as to antagonise rather than do something positive.

“I’m particularly grateful to the Labour group for their level-headed and constructive approach.”

Councillor Matt Storey, leader of the Council’s Labour Group, added: “We are pleased that the Mayor has agreed to include our amendments in the budget.

“Labour’s priority in Middlesbrough will always be to protect services for local people in the face of severe cuts to our Council from central government. We will continue to lobby hard for a fairer funding settlement for Middlesbrough.

“This budget is fair, balanced and gives local people reassurance that local Labour Councillors will do whatever it takes to deliver the best outcomes for our communities.”

Proposals for Middlesbrough Council’s 2020-21 budget will be considered at a meeting of the Council’s Executive on Tuesday, February 18, before ratification by full Council on Wednesday, February 26.

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