10 things you need to know from the latest Sunderland City Council cabinet meeting

A potential council tax rise and nearly £200million of city investment is on the table under new council plans.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 6:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 3:05 pm
Sunderland City Council's latest cabinet meeting was held on Tuesday, October 15.

At Tuesday’s meeting of Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet, future budget plans for 2020/21 and beyond were revealed.

Plans include an updated capital programme with £198.993 million of extra investment in coming years.

The raft of long-term projects aim to create a more “dynamic, healthy and vibrant Sunderland” in line with the emerging City Plan.

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Subject to further decision-making and consultation with residents, no major cuts to council services are currently planned.

However, the council’s funding gap stands at £26.67 million over the next four years to 2023/24, including a £2.32 million gap in 2020/21.

The 2020/21 budget will return to cabinet next year before going to full council for final approval.

Here’s a round-up of some of the key points from the cabinet meeting you may have missed.

Council tax rise

Sunderland residents could face a 3.99% rise in council tax next year.

To meet rising adult social care costs, the government has proposed a 2% ‘social care levy’ to be charged on council tax.

A further 2% is also proposed by the council to maintain services such as household collections.

Any increase would be in line with government regulations and confirmation of Sunderland’s share of government funding.

The final figure will be decided next year following consultation.

Budget pressures

At the cabinet meeting, councillors heard there were major budget pressures in adult social care and children’s services.

For this financial year 2019/20, the council expects to spend £142 million on adult social care – the biggest part of the council’s £651 million budget.

The authority is currently facing a estimated £7.440 million pressure around adult social care.

However, plans are in place to tackle this from “assistive technology” to management around complex cases.

The council’s children’s services agency, Together for Children, is also forecasting a £4.3 million overspend for the year.

According to the cabinet report, this is linked to increased complexity of needs of looked after children.

Car park shake-up

Under capital plans, a raft of new car parks are planned for Wearside.

This includes a £9 million 500-space car park on the Vaux site and a 93-space car park at Dykelands Road to serve the seafront.

Refurbishment works are also planned for the city’s Park Lane car park to provide “enhanced facilities” for the city centre.

Investment for schools

Two primary schools could be rebuilt on new sites under capital plans.

Sunningdale Primary School, in Shaftoe Road, could move to a new £13 million home in Clinton Place, Doxford Park.

Thorney Close Primary School would then move to a new £6.861 million premises on the current Sunningdale site.

Both proposals are in the discussion stage and there is no timescale for the changes.

A further £4.564 million is also sidelined to extend Newbottle Primary Academy and provide a unit for autism spectrum disorders.

Barnes Junior School could also benefit from £2.899 million improvement works.

And a £4.853 million school replacement is also planned for Hetton Primary School.

Wear footbridge

Major plans include a new Wear footbridge as part of a wider £6.761 million scheme for the city centre.

This includes investment in Holmeside and further development at Sunderland’s Railway station.

The proposals for the footbridge are in the very early stages and include feasibility and design works.

Replacement Crematorium

A total of £7.5 million is currently sidelined for a replacement crematorium on the existing site, off Chester Road.

The proposals aim to provide a more efficient facility alongside extended car parking.

New children’s homes

Sunderland could benefit from two new children’s residential homes under capital spending plans.

Currently, £1.3 million is allocated for the project to reduce costs around external placements for looked after children.

The programme is linked to wider council plans to provide accommodation and support for young people with complex needs between 16-25 years old.

Seaburn and Riverside investment

A total of £15.1 million has been allocated to boost the Riverside area.

This includes improved vehicular, pedestrian and cycle routes on both sides of the river and infrastructure to support more events.

In Seaburn, £2 million is sidelined for Ocean Park for new play facilities, paving upgrades and a new east-west pedestrian link to Dykelands Road.

Crowtree Square retail plans

The former site of the Crowtree Leisure Centre could also house new retail units under £7.4 million plans.

This includes car parking, public open space and “stopping up a public highway on the site.”

A cabinet report adds the scheme will “bring into use a brownfield city centre site improving the overall city centre offer and provide a rental stream to the council.”

Other projects / proposals in the pipeline

A £36.3 million development on Farringdon Row that would be supported by a long-term lease with a prospective tenant. £46.5 million towards strategic land acquisitions that contribute to city regeneration. An extra £303,000 of updates to Jacky Whites Market to bring refurbishment works up to £400,000. £750,000 towards restoring Roker Park Lodge and opening a café, kitchen garden and outside eating area. £650,000 for updating café and events space at Herrington Country Park’s site office. A new £1.4 million Cork Street Day Centre for people with physical disabilities. An extra £400,000 towards environmental and street scene work. An extra £400,000 towards more housing enforcement and monitoring due to the rise in private rented housing.