Taxpayer savings and environment at heart of Amber Valley Borough Council spending plans

Amber Valley Borough Council’s forthcoming capital programme focuses on major savings in energy and a £10m investment into new council housing stock over the next three years.

The annual capital programme, which determines where external grants and other council capital funds are spent, is recommended for approval at a meeting of councillors next week.

Included in the 2023-24 draft plan is a scheme to embark upon the building and purchasing of new homes, and the refurbishment of existing vacant council-owned properties, to create a new stock of rented council accommodation.

Amber Valley has only one direct housing tenant currently, since most other council homes were long-ago transferred to housing associations. Now, the council intends to spend around £10m between 2023 and 2026 to eventually create a new stock of at least 50 council homes.

Not only will this generate a valuable asset for the council, the move will give the authority more control on determining the types of homes required for those in need of housing, as well as generating extra income to ease the burden on council tax payers.

The forthcoming capital programme also includes an £800,000 investment towards the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on Amber Valley’s three main leisure centres, in Heanor, Alfreton and Ripley. This is projected to save around £4.8m in energy costs over 25 years and reduce carbon emissions by 3,426 tonnes over the same period.

Following the same eco-friendly drive, the council is proposing to spend £600,000 over the next two years replacing some of the council’s fleet of vans and street cleansing vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs).    

Councillor Kevin Buttery, leader of the borough council, said: "I am delighted that in these financially challenging times, the council is still in a position to invest £17m in such a wide-ranging capital programme that will benefit our residents.

"I see investment in council houses as investment in the borough’s future. Building these homes is not just about bricks and mortar, it is about acquiring a new generation of housing that is safe, affordable and energy efficient, which is an essential building block for a happy and secure family life.

"As part of our Budget Reduction Plan, it is also vitally important that we make best use of our assets to generate much needed revenue income, which can then be re-invested back into building more homes, or providing valued services."

He added: "It is a fantastic opportunity to show leadership to our community in cutting our carbon footprint, whether that be through transition of our equipment and vehicle fleet to electric, or by fitting solar panels to buildings. 

"We know leisure centres use lots of energy, especially to heat the swimming pools. As a council, we are committed to maintaining our leisure centres for future generations, which includes swimming facilities.

"So, it makes sense that we invest in major energy efficient projects that will have the biggest impact. Fitting solar panels to our three leisure centre roofs will provide dual benefits, of significantly reducing financial costs and preventing tonnes of carbon emissions." 

Amber Valley Borough Council is expected to sign-off the proposed capital programme on March 29.

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