Councillors have agreed a budget which will deliver a major investment of £169 million in capital projects across East Lothian over the next three years.
Resources have been allocated for new schools, transport initiatives, affordable homes and new or upgraded community and sports facilities.
Work on four new schools, including new primary schools at Letham near Haddington and Wallyford, and a number of extensions will be supported by £97m.
Expansion or upgrade work is also planned at Law Primary School in North Berwick and Pinkie St Peters in Musselburgh.
There will also be investment in the Red School, Prestonpans, for early years provision and a replacement for Levenhall Nursery, Musselburgh at Pinkie St Peters.
There is money in the budget for work on schools to reflect housing growth in line the council’s proposed local development plan, which is subject to a period of formal representation.
This includes a new primary school at Craighall near Musselburgh. Initial resources have been allocated towards the commencement of an additional secondary school to serve the Musselburgh area. Money has also been set aside to commence the facilities upgrade at the existing Musselburgh Grammar School.
Resources have been allocated for expansion or upgrade work at a number of primary schools: Pinkie West Barns, Dunbar, Aberlady, Gullane, Ormiston, Windygoul (Tranent), Elphinstone, Longniddry, Prestonpans Infant and Whitecraig.
Extensions of Ross High School, North Berwick High School and a further expansion of Dunbar Grammar, and are also planned.
Developer contributions are sought where appropriate towards development costs.
A £144m package of investment in council housing will be delivered over the next five years.
The budget allocates resources between 2017/18 and 2021/22 for an £85m programme of new council housing and almost £59m of investment in modernisation and extensions to existing homes.
In 2017/18, 35 new homes are expected to be completed at Pinkie in Musselburgh, as well as a further 18 at Russell Walk in North Berwick.
Further new council housing developments are planned for Tranent, Cockenzie and Haddington.
The purchase of some former council homes for sale on the open market will also continue.
Meanwhile, there will be a rolling programme of improvements to existing council houses. This includes refurbishments of bathrooms, kitchens and roofing and the installation of energy efficiency measures – in an effort to help reduce fuel poverty.
The capital projects investment over the next three years will secure benefits for dozens of communities – including new or upgraded community and sports facilities
More than £1m has been earmarked for both a new Port Seton Sports Hall and Whitecraig Community Centre.
Haddington’s popular Corn Exchange will benefit from £850,000 of resources towards a refurbishment, while around £400,000 has been earmarked for East Saltoun School/Community Hall.
Around £825,000 will be invested in sports centres and synthetic pitches, with a further £163,000 going towards the restoration of Tranent’s Polson Park.
More than £16m will be invested in the county’s network of roads, with around £1.3m identified for parking improvements.
There is good news for public transport with confirmation that, in the next three years, the council has allocated £1.5m of its total contribution of £3.44m towards development of the new East Linton railway station.
Upgrade work at town centre toilets is planned thanks to £300,000 of investment.
As well as the enormously significant economic boost that the City Region Deal could potentially bring to East Lothian, our budget sets aside £1.4m for the development of employment land at Gateside, Haddington and more than £3m in total for business support and town centre regeneration.
Depute council leader Michael Veitch said: “While this has been another challenging budget requiring difficult choices, it enables us to protect services while continuing to manage the council’s finances sensibly.
“I particularly welcome our commitment to infrastructure investment – with a significant capital spending programme worth some £169m. As well as extensions or the building of new schools at the heart of communities, I’m pleased that we’re investing in East Lothian’s network of roads and, of course, progressing with a new rail station at East Linton – recognising that public transport has an important role to play in keeping the county moving.
“This is a budget which, despite the very real challenges faced, reflects the ambitions of a council determined to maintain the very high level of valuable services and facilities, which the people of East Lothian rightly expect.”