Millpond renovation £500k under budget

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Crawley Borough Council’s renovation work at Ifield Millpond will come in £500,000 under budget.

Work on the £7.5million project began last April and should be finished in June.

Cllr Colin Lloyd, Cabinet member for the environment, announced the news to a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (February 25).

Cllr Lloyd said: “The original budget allowed for what might be described as worst case scenarios – that things could go wrong because of exceptionally bad weather.

“To some extent it was by way of a contingency plan.”

With the feared bad weather never arriving, the council will return the £500k to the reserves for use on other capital spending programmes.

Also on the agenda at the meeting was the approval of the council’s budget for 2015/16 and the announcement Sussex Police had raised its portion of the council tax.

With the borough and county councils opting to freeze council tax, members from both sides of the chamber were disappointed Sussex Police chose to raise its portion by 1.98 per cent – £2.79 for a Band D property. The council tax bill for a Band D property will now be £1,493.73.

As for the town’s budget, it was voted through almost unanimously, with only Cllr Brenda Smith (Lab, Langley Green) opting to abstain.

Council leader Cllr Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said he was “proud” of the budget, which included £200k to bring the town’s adventure playgrounds “back up to standard”.

Some £65k will be spent on maintaining grass verges and shrub beds, which Cllr Lamb said would “help to give the town back its self-respect”.

And £5m was set aside for the purchasing of property after the council successfully bought the ASK restaurant, in the High Street, and Atlantic House, in Henson Road.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) teased his opposite number by claiming the budget had been based on “sound Conservative principles”.

He then offered Cllr Lamb a blue rosette, which was not accepted.

Cllr Lamb said: “I’m very proud to support this document with or without opposition support – although it’s certainly nice to get a pat on the back rather than a knife in the back.”