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Focus on highways, transport, economy, planning and waste

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Hampshire County Council is looking closely at how it delivers its highways, transport, economic development, planning and waste services as it looks to save 12% of its budget by 2015.

These savings are necessary as grant from Government has been cut by 43% over the last four years and it is clear that the challenging financial outlook is not going to change for some time.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: "In these challenging economic times, we're looking closely at how we can maximise efficiency in our operations and concentrate on our core services, while supporting Hampshire's economy We're listening to what Hampshire residents want and expect, and it's important we use our £113 million budget fairly and respect the public's priorities, in particular, around our highways services that affect everyone in Hampshire one way or another.

"This does mean some tough decisions will need to be made. Our priorities are to look after our highway network, to ensure that subsidised bus and community transport services support travel to areas of employment, education and health, and to both reduce the cost of processing household waste and reduce the volume of waste that goes through the system.

"We'll be looking at some different and innovative ways to make sure we can continue to deliver these key priorities, while meeting our budget savings targets and maintaining the quality of our core services. The aim is to focus resources where they are most needed and provide highways, transport, economic development, planning and waste services for all of Hampshire's council taxpayers on an equitable, efficient and effective basis."

The Council's Economy, Transport and Environment Select Committee will review a series of budget proposals on 21 January, advising the Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, as he considers his recommendations later the same day. These, alongside the other Executive Members' recommendations for their areas, go to Cabinet for consideration in February.

With some three quarters of the budget spent through external contracts, cutting costs in the three main contract spend areas of highways maintenance, waste disposal and bus subsidies will be critical to meeting budget savings targets. Therefore, while maintaining Hampshire's highways network remains the key priority, savings are proposed to change the way some routine maintenance is carried out to make the most efficient use of resources. The County Council has been successful in securing a significant amount of capital funding from Government to deliver transport and highways projects and a number of these schemes will be completed this year.

As speed enforcement is part of the normal routine for Police, phasing out the start-up funding for additional police speed limit enforcement of the Village 30 scheme is being considered. With around £1m spent each year on school crossing patrols, and additional school places being provided through new or expanded schools, there are plans to review provision at the handful of sites which are now well above the national criteria for sites needing additional support, concentrating resources on schools where they are most needed.

Proposals are also being considered to consult on the current enhancements to the concessionary fare scheme for pensioners, which currently accounts for around 20% of the total highways and transport revenue budget. Concessionary fares, together with subsidies to fund lesser-used bus routes, which are not commercially viable for the bus companies to run on their own, cost Hampshire County Council over £50,000 a day, and as resources are squeezed through reductions in Government funding, these areas will be reviewed to find their share of savings.

There will be consultation on options for budget reductions in this area later in the year, along with ideas for improving recycling and reducing waste management costs across the County Council's waste sites.

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