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Camden set for 900 new homes and 420 extra school places despite huge £80million cuts

Cllr Theo Blackwell joins council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward in calling for the government to take action against the cost of living crisis. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Cllr Theo Blackwell joins council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward in calling for the government to take action against the cost of living crisis. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Thursday, December 12, 2013
6:00 AM

Camden will receive 900 new homes and more than 400 new school places in the next decade – despite one of the largest ever funding cuts in the council’s budget of £80million over the next four years.

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The ambitious plans for new housing and school developments were approved by the Labour-led council’s cabinet last week.

At the same meeting the cabinet committed to slicing £80million from its budget by 2018, to cope with central government funding cuts announced by chancellor George Osborne in his latest spending review in June.

The government announced huge cuts in Camden’s central funding between 2014 and 2018 which the local authority will tackle with a £10million cut in its budget over the next financial year alone.

This will be followed by £70million over the following three years and will result in a number of council staff redundancies while council officials have refused to rule out a potential council tax rise to meet the budgetary demands.

However, the council will simultaneously use its Community Investment Programme (CIP) to raise £200million to fund almost 900 new homes in Gospel Oak, West Hampstead, Camden Town and Somers Town, with almost all expected to be complete by 2016.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are managing to make a difference. I can’t kid anyone about the severe funding problems we will have in the future. Unlike other councils in London, we won’t be doing [frontline] cuts next year, although there is a big wave of cuts we will have to think about in 2015.”

Last Wednesday, the council’s cabinet also agreed plans to expand Kingsgate Primary School, in Kingsgate Road, West Hampstead, by 420 places with a new school site in Liddell Road, West Hampstead.

The council has come under criticism for cutting just £10million in the next financial year, which some argue is a cynical ploy to lighten the blow ahead of council elections in May.

Cllr Keith Moffitt, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “They are purposely putting off frontline cuts until after the [council elections in May]. When you think about the timing of the election that feels very cynical.”

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