Gloucestershire residents are facing an almost five per cent increase in their county council tax bill next year as tens of millions are set aside for road improvements.

Gloucestershire County Council leaders are proposing a £609 million budget for 2024/25, an increase of more than £42 million on the current financial year.

The authority’s finances are in a much better position than other councils across the country who are facing the prospect of going bust.

This is partly thanks to how profitable the contentious Javelin Park incinerator has been in recent times. It is expected to provide a £15m boost for the council next year.

Shire Hall bosses say they will continue to invest in their highways transformation work as part of their £100 million investment in roads.

This funding has already led to 212 roads resurfaced and 50,000 potholes filled this year.

And some £37.4 million has been ear-marked for next year, as part of a £171 million scheme, to make significant improvements at M5 Junction 10 and completion of the Arle Court Transport Hub. Just under £20 million has been set aside for school improvements including a new special school in Gloucester and a new primary school at Bishops Cleeve.

As well as this, the budget includes a £8.3 million disabled facilities grant to support people with a disability to make adaptations to their homes.

Plans would see £1.3 million invested into increasing the frequency and operating hours of 21 of the county’s popular timetabled bus routes, with the bookable bus service, The Robin, also due to be extended from May.

A total of £1.9 million is proposed to be invested into tackling key road safety hotspots and providing specialist training to Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service. The council also plans to continue the financial support for residents who have welcomed Ukrainian guests into their homes.

The budget proposes raising £14.2 million to help fund services through a council tax increase of 2.99 per cent.

The proposals would also see £7.8 million raised specifically to support work with the most vulnerable adults in the county through a further two per cent increase in the adult social care precept.

Based on a band D property, residents would pay an additional £6.34 each month.

Council leaders say they will continue to challenge themselves to work more effectively and have identified £23 million in savings, additional income and efficiencies for next year.

However, the opposition have labelled the proposals as a “stand still” Tory budget which lacks drive and ambition.

They say the council will be raising tax and raiding reserves while cutting valuable services at a time when many of the county’s roads are crumbling.

Liberal Democrat group leader Ben Evans (LD, Churchdown) said: “This is a stand still Conservative budget for Gloucestershire county council. It lacks ambition and drive.

“The council raising council tax, raiding reserves and at the same time cutting valuable services. Residents will not be hoodwinked; they are seeing longer waiting times for services and our roads are crumbling.

“Our road budget has been cut over the past four years, in cash terms before you even take into account rampant inflation.

“The Conservatives are spending less on our roads. This means fewer potholes being filled and roads being resurfaced in Gloucestershire.

“Conservatives in Gloucestershire have been hamstrung by their chums in Westminster. The Government’s handling of the economy has led to higher inflation, some of the lowest growth in Europe and as a result less money for our vital public services.”

Council leader Mark Hawthorne (C, Quedgeley) blasted the Lib Dems for “not reading” his group’s draft budget and claims the authority has “smashed” its target to resurface 180 roads.

“Since the Lib Dems clearly haven’t read our draft budget, I’ll happily give them the highlights.

“Far from standing still, we’re investing £42 million more than last year across the council in essential services like buses, schools, and social care.

“Far from lacking ambition, we’re working with partners to deliver £1 billion of infrastructure projects across Gloucestershire like M5 junction 10, Arle Court Transport Hub and the A417 Missing Link. Far from lacking drive, we’ve smashed our target to resurface 180 roads this year and are on track instead to resurface 220.

“Far from being hamstrung by Lib Dem opposition, we invested in Javelin Park, ending waste going to landfill and instead turning it into £15m Electricity bonus that is supporting vital frontline services.

“The only hoodwinked residents are the ones being told their money would be safer in Lib Dem hands.

“You only have to look to Cotswold District Council – who by their own admission might be facing bankruptcy – to see what chaos ensues when Lib Dems are in charge of taxpayer’s money.”

People have until January 11, 2024 to have their say on the budget proposals and can do so by clicking here . The final budget proposals are expected to be debated and voted on in February.