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Council tax in Cumbria set to rise 2%

Credit: ITV Border

Council tax in Cumbria is set to rise by two percent in the coming financial year.

The County Council is having to find £33m of savings and says the rise is necessary in order to protect frontline services.

In the future the government are going to require councils to fund services locally. So we will not be able to afford funding services locally unless we put Council tax up year on year."

– Patricia Bell, Cumbria County Council

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WATCH: repair work underway at Victoria Bridge in Kendal

Divers have been working in the River Kent carrying out repairs to the foundation of Victoria Bridge in Kendal.

Cumbria County Council are hoping to reopen the bridge as soon as possible.

Engineers have been placing 'grout bags' under the damaged bridge pier to provide support for the bridge above.

The bags fill the void created by flood water scouring away the bridge’s foundation.

The video shot by the dive team shows the work that has been done.

Heavy rain has caused river levels to rise and made working in the water unsafe for divers, and technical problems at the plant supplying the materials used in the repair, have meant the hoped for opening date has been pushed back into next week.

"It's deeply frustrating that factors outside of our control have hampered the speed of the repair.

"The divers have been doing a great job, but as river levels rise the speed of water flow increases and the visibility in the water drops, making it unsafe for us to work in the water.

"We can't give a definite date yet when we'll be able to open the bridge for traffic, but as soon as we can we'll let people know."

– Nick Raymond, Senior Manager - Network Management

County Council says road repair bill will run into hundreds of millions

The leader of Cumbria County Council has welcomed the news that the government has pledged £40 million to help repair some of the county's flood hit roads.

However, Stuart Young has said the total repair bill across the county will run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Our initial estimates indicate that the cost of repairing all the infrastructure which has been damaged by the recent flooding in Cumbria alone, will run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

This includes roads, bridges and schools, but we welcome this announcement of an initial allocation towards the cost of repairing the A591, Eamont Bridget and Pooley Bridge.

We will continue to work closely with the government and their agent Highways England, to ensure that these vital communications links are restored as soon as possible."

– Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council

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Full range of flood funding now available

The Eden river in Appleby burst its banks Credit: ITV News Border

A full range of funding schemes for those who've been affected by flooding has now been put in place by Cumbria County Council.

Six separate flood schemes have been set up to support households and businesses, with a seventh scheme to fund household protection due to launch on January 4th.

These flood schemes include:

  • £500 for every household that has been flooded
  • Flood resilience grants of up to £5000 (launching January 4th)
  • Council Tax relief scheme for flood properties
  • Business Rates relief scheme for flooded businesses
  • Business grants of up to £10,000 for businesses affected by flooding
  • Funding for households via the Cumbria Community Foundation
  • Funding for voluntary organisations via the Cumbria Community Foundation

For further information on these grants and how to apply for them, visit the Cumbria County Council website, here.

Department for Transport responds to rail protest

The Department for Transport was responding to criticism from the RMT. Credit: ITV Border

The Department for Transport has released a statement in response to protests from the RMT union, about proposals to cut ticket staff jobs.

The rail and transport union is protesting outside Cumbria County Council's meeting in Kendal today, because the Government has decided that local authorities will have more say over local rail services:

The next Northern and Transpennine franchises will bring massive improvements for customers, including removing the outdated and unpopular Pacers, bringing in a brand new fleet of modern trains, and boosting capacity at peak times by a third. It’s part of our ambitious one nation plan to transform transport infrastructure and build a Northern Powerhouse to create a balanced, healthier economy.

We recognise the value of customer-facing staff on the railways, which is why we are not specifying any staff cuts in the new franchises. Giving drivers responsibility for opening and closing doors frees up on-board staff to provide the high level of customer service that passengers deserve.”

– DfT spokesperson
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