MORE than £500,000 will be spent on leisure projects at Wallingford's Riverside Park as part of a new budget set to be approved by South Oxfordshire District Council.

The budget will see £200,000 allocated for an extension to the splashpad leisure area, £150,000 spent on refurbishing the campsite, and £148,500 on improving access to moorings for wheelchair users at the park, near Wallingford Bridge.

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Homeowner Emma Elton-Browning, from Didcot, said: “We have a boarded-up health centre site, a finished children’s play park and skatepark still fenced off after two years and the allotments are delayed again. How can they justify raising council tax when they fail to provide promised services?"

However, a increase in council tax – of £5 for an average Band D property – will help pay for new spending. The rise would see householders paying a Band D rate of £136.24.
The council is expected to back the budget, at its full council meeting on Thursday.

Affordable housing, financial sustainability and action to tackle the climate crisis are among commitments.

Up to £5m secured from developers is expected to go to providing affordable houses in the district over the year.

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District councillor for Wallingford George Levy, said he would be pushing to get affordable housing in the town.

“When we talk about affordable housing, a lot of it is not really that affordable," he said. "The council recognises that and wants to try to charge rent at a better rate.
"I’m trying to push to get some of that in the town. It is one of the main things I’m interested in, alongside energy efficient housing."

The council also plans to restart plans delayed by Covid-19. A one-off investment of £500,000 will help to fund projects including tree and hedge planting.

Some £500,000 community grant funding will also support projects such as building new, or replacement, community buildings, additional sports and play areas, installing solar panels, providing defibrillators, and training volunteers.

There has been some criticism, however, with opposition to council tax hikes, rises in car park charges and the fact that the district council is building new offices at Didcot Gateway instead of more infrastructure like health and leisure centres.

Council leader David Rouane, a member for Didcot, said: "We are proposing a council tax of £136.24 for a Band D property. This is a below inflation increase of 3.7 per cent.

The increase is necessary in order to continue to reduce the deficit which the council has been running for many years but also to meet additional costs such as the increase in national insurance introduced by the Government recently."

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