Essex set to build back bigger through major infrastructure funding
Major capital projects averaging £300m per annum included as part of the County Council’s Autumn Budget Statement
A new railway station for Chelmsford, along with new schools and roads are among infrastructure schemes averaging £300 million a year which will be initiated by the County Council over the next four years.
The announcement was made 12 October by Councillor Chris Whitbread, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources and Corporate Affairs as part of the Council’s first Autumn Budget Statement.
Cllr Whitbread said: “I am pleased to be presenting our Autumn Budget Statement and how this will facilitate the ambition and drive of the new vision.
“Annually we spend in the region of £1.4bn, and our focus is to make sure that this money has a real positive impact on the lives of Essex residents and the local economy.”
Cllr Whitbread acknowledged the challenges posed to the local economy by Coronavirus over the past 18 months adding: “Despite these challenges, I am proud to say that since May 2021, we have been able to deliver over £30m directly through thousands of individual grants to support residents, businesses and community groups – helping them through the crisis. We provided over £10m of support for Essex businesses during the pandemic.”
Cllr Whitbread also addressed the uncertainty facing the local authority’s finances in the future: “The current inflation rate in the UK is 2.5%. It is expected to rise further - potentially up to 4% in the short term. This volatility impacts our financial planning, as we try to anticipate the effect on our day-to-day spending, from social care to waste disposal.”
He added: “The growing and aging population of the UK continues to place considerable pressure on councils and demand for our services. Over the next four years the Essex population over the age of 65 is forecast to increase by over 9%, compared to an increase of 4% of the total population of Essex.”
The capital projects planned for the next four years include major infrastructure schemes such as the work developing Beaulieu Park Train Station, Chelmsford North East Bypass, the A120-A133 Link Road as well as school expansion and maintenance programmes.