IMPROVEMENTS to the county's highways, open spaces and parks are set to be driven by a £3.2 million Environment Fund.

Cumbria County Council unanimously approved its last ever budget yesterday including a £3.2 million Environment Fund as part of its Medium Term Financial Plan.

Local Committees across Cumbria will be given £400,000 each for environmental improvement schemes and pothole repairs.

At the meeting of full council on Thursday, the Conservative opposition group successfully called for an additional £1.2 million specifically for highway improvements.

And for the second year running, the Local Committees will be asked to work with district, town and parish councils to make full use of extra funding for Environment Fund schemes, drawing up a list of local projects and identifying match funding where possible.

Finance boss and deputy leader Peter Thornton successfully proposed the council's 50th and final budget at the meeting.

Speaking of improvements to the public realm, he said: "We’re delighted to have been able to approve funding for the second year in a row for vital environmental improvements in our communities as well as allocate money to pothole repairs.

Councillor Thornton said: "The council is really focused on making our communities safer and greener, and these schemes will help with that. We also know the frustration that potholes cause and this extra cash boost which was unanimously agreed by Members will make a real difference to the number of repairs we can fix.

"We’ve seen over the last year what a difference the Environment Fund has had in each of our six districts and we will continue to work with our communities and councils at a local level to draw up a list of environmental improvement schemes to make the best possible use of this funding."

The funding must be used by the end of March 2023 before the council is replaced by two unitary authorities for the new constituencies of Cumberland in the west and Westmorland & Furness in the east.