Mid Suffolk council set to spend on electric buses and food banks this year

Mid Suffolk District Council has set out its spending plans for the year ahead in 2022/23

Mid Suffolk District Council has set out its spending plans for the year ahead - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN/MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

Electric minibuses, food bank support and help for energy-inefficient homes are set to be among investment plans at Mid Suffolk District Council in the year ahead.

The authority passed its 2022 budget last week, which included proposals by the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group to invest £820,000 from the growth and efficiency fund to secure two electric buses that will deliver scheduled rural services not currently being met.

The Conservative and Independent administration also said it will bring forward plans over the next year to invest nearly £1million of additional government grants.

While full details are not yet known, Conservative cabinet member for finance, John Whitehead, said the intention is to include an uplift in rural community grants and increase councillor locality grants.

He said officers are investigating financial support for food banks and looking at how to provide a free means-tested energy performance certificate service for the most energy inefficient homes in the district.

“We want to bring those to cabinet at the earliest opportunity as fully-fledged and deliverable initiatives,” Cllr Whitehead said.

“We want to really help those residents that are struggling the most.

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“The plans are being drawn up now so reports can come to cabinet as soon as possible.

“We truly have ambitious plans which are only made possible by the financial strength and hard work we have put in over the years to get us to our current position.”

It follows a pledge in November to invest £5.1million in 39 schemes to help communities recover from the pandemic. Those schemes will be delivered this year and next.

The Green and Liberal Democrat bus plans aim to address a gap in public transport services and support those in rural communities – particularly for those who cannot drive.

It will see two electric minibuses running scheduled services connecting rural communities.

Group deputy leader John Field, said it would be filling a gap in services rather than competing with existing services.

He said: “It’s pleasing to find that the administration agreed that our proposal met a real need for scheduled public transport in rural areas.  We can now work together to refine it and deliver what people want and need.”

It is hoped it will be up and running within a few months.

The authority last week unanimously agreed to the 2022/23 budget which proposes a freeze on the district’s portion of the council tax bill.