Council greenlights funds to become carbon-neutral and make town centre 'destination of choice for businesses' - The Rugby Observer

Council greenlights funds to become carbon-neutral and make town centre 'destination of choice for businesses'

Rugby Editorial 26th Feb, 2020 Updated: 26th Feb, 2020   0

PLANS to help the town centre become ‘a destination of choice for businesses’ and kickstart Rugby Borough Council’s (RBC) drive to become carbon-neutral by 2030 have been approved at the council’s annual budget meeting last night (Tuesday February 25).

The council also confirmed plans to raise its share of council tax, which accounts for around eight per cent of the total bill, by £5 a year for an average Band D property.

Combined with hikes previously announced by Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police, Rugby residents will pay an extra £72.20 a year for Band D.

RBC will create a £200,000 business startup fund to encourage retailers into the town centre, and set up a joint office with Rugby First to work on a masterplan for its future.

The council also revealed an international hotel operator is keen to open at a town centre site, and proposed creating a trading company to help cover the cost of council services and boost the supply of affordable homes.

Coun Seb Lowe, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said: “The business start-up fund will encourage independent and artisan retailers to choose Rugby town centre so that it becomes a destination of choice for businesses.”

He said the new town centre masterplan would shape the future of the town centre over the next decade, adding: “I’m pleased to confirm our partners at Warwickshire County Council will join a project steering group so that the Rugby Transport Plan and town centre masterplan are developed together and jointly support both our economic and environmental objectives.”

The council also approved a cross-party-recommended £500,000 fund to kickstart carbon-neutrality projects, and signed up to a regional project to build a materials recovery facility in Coventry which will reduce the mileage of recycling collection vehicles and allow more materials to be recycled.

A new policy to introduce hybrid and electric taxis will be presented to councillors later this year.

Coun Lowe added: “How we respond to climate change is fast becoming the defining issue of our generation. This council will integrate work on climate change into everything we do.

“This will mean residents will need to consider how they can reduce their own impact on the environment, and together we will need to consider how we can do things differently.”

The Labour group’s proposals, which were voted down, included a weekend electric shuttle bus service connecting the outskirts of Rugby to the town centre, investment in council houses to provide more affordable housing, a citizen’s hub to bring together all council and voluntary services, and working to become a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Group leader Coun Maggie O’Rourke said: “Our plans are carefully costed and show how we will build a modern, green and fair future for our town.”

The Liberal Democrats group proposed a cross-party budget which would add an extra £1.5million from council reserves to the climate change fund, invest in a scheme to reduce car travel, reduce waste going to landfill, improve access to parks and open spaces, and accelerate tree-planting.

Group leader Coun Jerry Roodhouse said: “We need to change our bus fleets, create better green spaces and more cycle ways that connect, and most importantly work with our local businesses for Rugby.”

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