Bud­get mea­sures a real chal­lenge

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

LAST Thurs­day, your county coun­cil fi­nally agreed prob­a­bly the tough­est pack­age of bud­get mea­sures I can re­mem­ber.

In a few weeks, read­ers will be open­ing their coun­cil tax de­mands to see that we took the de­ci­sion to raise our pro­por­tion of coun­cil tax by 1.99 per cent, an av­er­age in­crease of 42p per week.

Of course no one likes in­creased charges but through this mod­est rise, we will be able to in­vest ex­tra money to look af­ter vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and adults, pro­vid­ing new school places and also con­tinue to im­prove our roads – three of the ma­jor pri­or­ity ar­eas you iden­ti­fied in our re­cent public con­sul­ta­tion on the bud­get.

How­ever, the flip side is that we’ve also had to make some re­duc­tions.

Th­ese in­clude less fund­ing for po­lice com­mu­nity safety of­fi­cers, less work at­tract­ing new busi­nesses and jobs, fewer lo­cal trans­port im­prove­ment schemes, re­duc­tions in the open­ing hours of waste sites and in­creas­ing other charges for ser­vices.

We have also lost over £7m of cap­i­tal fund­ing and had to raid our re­serves to the tune of over £12m and re-pri­ori­tise other work. Get­ting the books to bal­ance has been a mas­sively dif­fi­cult task.

The coun­try still has a ma­jor chal­lenge in re­duc­ing its deficit and we recog­nise that lo­cal gov­ern­ment has to play its part in re­duc­ing its ex­pen­di­ture.

Af­ter pre­vi­ous cuts in fund­ing, next year we will lose an­other 21 per cent or £10.8m of our cen­tral gov­ern­ment grant and this is set to re­duce fur­ther as the squeeze on the public purse re­lent­lessly con­tin­ues.

Com­bined with a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, peo­ple living longer and other pres­sures on all ser­vices, it’s a chal­leng­ing out­look for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

I want to as­sure read­ers that, de­spite the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, we are do­ing our very best to con­tinue to pro­vide key ser­vices to more than 500,000 res­i­dents across the county. To find out more about our bud­get for 2015 visit www.buckscc. gov.uk/bud­get.

Martin Tett Bucks County Coun­cil leader

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