RESURFACED roads, school expansions and improved council homes are among plans set out to invest millions of pounds in local infrastructure over the next five years, writes Matt Discombe.

Vale of Glamorgan Council this week agreed details on how £257million will be spent in the county from April 2018 to 2023. More than £6million however is set to be cut from the council's budget this year.

This is how the money will be spent.

Education - £130million

This includes an improvement programme for schools across the Vale, including Barry Comprehensive, Bryn Hafren Comprehensive and Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.

Major spending on the Vale's schools is set to continue after the life of the council's investment plans agreed this week.

A £142million investment in the Vale's schools starts in 2019/20, which includes £83.8million from the Welsh Government.

Schemes that could be included in the '21st Century Schools Programme' include new, modern buildings for St David’s Primary School in Colwinston and Llancarfan Primary School, an extended and remodelled school building for St Nicholas, new and remodelled school buildings in Cowbridge, a new school on Barry Waterfront and a new Catholic school for pupils aged three to 16.

Business cases for all schemes will need to be approved by Welsh Government.

Social services - £2.2million

This includes more than £1.3million being spent on older people's accommodation in 2019/20.

Environment and housing - £92million

More than £72million will be spent on an improvement programme for the Vale's social housing.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council will spend an additional £2.1million on resurfacing roads across the county, if proposals for its 2018/19 budget are approved this week.

Around half of this has been committed by the council – in addition to the £300,000 originally budgeted – with the remaining £1.1 million coming from a one-off Welsh Government grant.

The Dinas Powys Library Bridge will have £170,000 of work carried out in 2018/19, and Murchfield Access Bridge will have £44,000. There will also be £50,000 spent on replacing street lights, and £15,000 will be annually invested in the Vale's 22 community centres.

Where will the money be saved?

Vale of Glamorgan council is looking to save £6,298,000 from its budget in 2018/19.

This includes:

• £1.1million from the education budget (including £824,000 from schools).

• £839,000 from environment and housing.

• £419,000 from social services.

• £3.9million from council functions such as human resources, IT, legal services, finance and democratic services.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “As an authority, we are operating in the context of year-on-year reductions in our funding from Welsh Government. While all local authorities face challenging times, the situation is increasingly difficult for this council given that we are one of the lowest funded councils in Wales.

“We have already had to save approximately £50million over the last seven years and, excluding schools, savings of £16.909million needs to be achieved over the next three years. We are also being asked by Welsh Government to deliver more services, at a time when specific Welsh Government grants are being cut.

“Given this situation, it is unsurprising that there is pressure on our budgets. But the Vale of Glamorgan Council has an excellent track record of delivering high-quality services in an efficient manner and we will continue to strive to make savings as efficiently as possible.”

Council Tax

Vale residents will have to pay 3.9 per cent more in Council Tax, with the hike also being agreed on Wednesday night.

That means for those living in a Band D property, you will be paying £1,186.92 towards the council's coffers this year.

The hike was agreed despite an attempted Plaid Cymru amendment to use £603,000 from the council's reserves to reduce the Council Tax rise, which was defeated.

'Government has a gun to our heads'

Llantwit First councillor Gwyn John expressed his fears about the tightening of council budgets and the level of Council Tax.

He said: "This is a serious matter and I'm very concerned about where we're going.

"There's lots of people out there struggling (but) we have got a gun to our heads from the Welsh Government."

Labour opposition leader, Cllr Neil Moore, also raised concerns about youth services being "decimated," with opportunities being missed to engage with young people with complex needs.

He said: "(These are) services to help divert them away from criminal futures.

"Cutting youth services now will add to the youth offending demands in the future."

Council leader John Thomas said on Wednesday night: "Times are hard and we do need to keep what we can in the council funds as a buffer.

"Savings are getting harder and harder to find."

"We're confident we will be able to achieve most of the savings this year."

Cllr Thomas added Vale of Glamorgan Council will try to keep redundancies to a minimum while it tries to find the savings.