Opinion: Investing in the East Riding’s future

Work continues on the �25 million East Riding Leisure Bridlington project.
Work continues on the �25 million East Riding Leisure Bridlington project.

At East Riding of Yorkshire Council we are strong believers in the philosophy of investing to save and working extremely hard to attract external funding to support major projects.

You will all no doubt be fully aware of the financial challenges facing local authorities due to the consistently huge cuts in funding from central government over recent years but – despite these massive reductions – East Riding of Yorkshire Council has been determined to find the necessary money to invest in the area’s infrastructure and facilities.

Our philosophy is that such investment will benefit the East Riding, its residents and local businesses for years to come. This can be in all sorts of ways, whether it is improved roads, which is good news for every motorist as well as all the firms who need good transport links and the businesses which rely on tourism, to state-of-the-art leisure facilities which improve the population’s health and wellbeing.

This continued investment in the East Riding, through our capital programme, is a very positive feature of the council’s budget for the forthcoming financial year and is something which we are firmly committed to.

Some of the major capital schemes which are in progress, or which will be starting soon, include:

l East Riding Leisure Bridlington (£25 million) which, when complete by early summer, will be one of the best leisure centres in the country, with a wide range of top-class facilities and stunning views of Bridlington Bay.

l Our programme of multi-service centres (£9 million) which is integrating customer services, libraries and registration services as a one-stop-shop under a single roof, such as the newly-opened Driffield Centre (£1 million).

l A street lighting Invest to Save Programme (£16 million) which is seeing 9,000 new columns put up around the East Riding and 16,000 new energy-saving lights fitted by March 2019.

l Anlaby and East Ella Flood Alleviation Scheme (£21 million) which will reduce the risk of flooding to about 7,000 properties.

l A tripling of investment in ‘A’ roads highway maintenance (to £24 million).

The council also continues to have great success in securing external funding and our capital projects have benefited from substantial grant awards.

This has been achieved through a very competitive bidding process against other authorities and enables the council to increase the overall scale of capital investment within the East Riding.

More than £300 million of investment has been secured by the council’s asset strategy service for investment in the East Riding on highways infrastructure, flood risk and alleviation work, schools, housing and leisure facilities within the area.

Despite the continuing national economic difficulties, the council’s future capital programme is substantial, with investment now at a figure of around £402 million for 2016/17 and future years.

The priority for investment is now fully focused on an invest to save, sustain and improve services approach and we are also targeting a sustained growth in economic development.

It’s a tough balancing act, the need to reduce revenue expenditure while trying to protect and improve services for local communities and boost growth in the East Riding economy.

However, our long-term, planned capital investment will not only sustain and improve our facilities and infrastructure, helping to support the local construction industry and maintain jobs, but it will also attract match-funding external investment towards developing the local economy.

For example, East Riding Leisure Bridlington will not only provide the best possible leisure facilities but it should also attract future inward investment into the town.

So you can see that, as well as improving the East Riding’s infrastructure, the council’s capital investment programme helps to maintain and create jobs, with a great deal of the work being carried out by local contractors.

While some other local authorities are closing facilities such as libraries and customer service centres, we in the East Riding are using this capital investment to make better use of buildings and achieve long-term savings while also working to improve services for residents by delivering them differently.

You can rest assured that we will continue this policy, despite continued central government austerity measures and funding cuts, to make sure that the East Riding has the best possible facilities and services that our residents deserve.