Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) announced a host of new proposals ahead of confirming their budget for the new financial year.

Community wellbeing, the environment and prosperity in the district would be prioritised in the year ahead, Council Leader Stephen Cooksey said.

Applications for funding grants from the council are meanwhile being encouraged by MVDC ahead of considering a report on worthy grant applications on February 4.

Increasing funds for Citizens Advice Mole Valley, East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service and Central Surrey Voluntary Action have all been proposed so far.

On Tuesday (January 14) Cllr Cooksey sounded a cautionary note on publicising the areas MVDC plans to focus on with the 2020/21 budget.

Uncertainty over the future of local government funding encouraged councillors to take a more measured approach, he said:

"Our proposed budget recognises a degree of uncertainty in local government funding for the future and therefore takes a sensibly cautious approach.

"Our principle aim is to improve service provision this year.

"We are making some proposals in the budget to ensure that we maximise benefits to residents and businesses, and also ensure that the organisation operates effectively and sustainably."

The MVDC Leader went on to describe the ongoing infrastructure investments in the district as a key area to focus on for the council going forward.

"Supporting our town centres is a key theme for us both now and for the future, with the regeneration of Transform Leatherhead continuing and the launch of a new Opportunity Dorking project in 2020.

"We are also proposing setting aside £200,000 for Infrastructure Feasibility Studies.

"The draft Local Plan outlines major infrastructure requirements which will only be possible if we are prepared to bid for funds when they become available," Cllr Cooksey said.

The council leader also reiterated MVDC's declaration of the climate emergency and plans to go carbon-neutral by 2030, but said the details of how to get there were still being worked out.

"A Climate Change Strategy is being developed in co-operation with the Carbon Trust and the budget provides £200,000 for specific actions to be delivered during 2020/21," he said.

MVDC said that if the budget is passed it aims to fund community grant applications at the same level as in 2019/20.

"We must support the voluntary, community and faith sector, who work hard to improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of our district, and positively impact so many residents’ lives," Councillor Hazel Watson, Cabinet Member for Community, said.

"We provide funding to organisations that help us meet our priorities, and build capacity within communities.

“We want to hear from small, local organisations that are making a difference, so do contact us if you would like to talk through eligibility and the criteria for the Small Grants Community Fund," she added.

MVDC has awarded grants to 16 organisations for community projects since December 2018.