Coun­cil ‘strug­gling’ to bal­ance bud­get

Leader says re­serves may have to be used with £43m of sav­ings still needed to be found

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Michael Rus­sell michael.rus­sell@trin­i­tymir­

FUR­THER pub­lic ser­vices are set to be axed in Eal­ing after the coun­cil re­vealed it is still to find sav­ings of £43mil­lion.

It re­vealed on Tues­day, De­cem­ber 15 that swinge­ing cuts which have dec­i­mated coun­cil-run ser­vices have only re­sulted in £53m of the £96m sav­ings re­quired. Nearly £9m must be iden­ti­fied by Fe­bru­ary and the to­tal amount needed sav­ing could still rise fur­ther.

Coun­cil leader Ju­lian Bell, said: “We will try to meet the gap but if we can’t meet it we will have to use our re­serves. We are re­ally strug­gling to find ways of mak­ing and bal­anc­ing the bud­get with­out do­ing re­ally, re­ally ter­ri­ble things.”

At a cab­i­net meet­ing on De­cem­ber 15, coun­cil­lors con­sid­ered a £2.9m re­duc­tion to chil­dren and youth ser­vices, looked at new ways of fund­ing the Brent Lodge An­i­mal Cen­tre and ap­proved a re­duc­tion of £100,000 to its bud­get from April 2017.

The swinge­ing cuts have been caused by a re­duc­tion in gov­ern­ment fund­ing to coun­cils.

Last month, the coun­cil re­vealed cru­cial ser­vices will be slashed as a re­sult.

Th­ese in­cluded re­dun­dan­cies at the coun­cil, re­duc­ing fund­ing for schools’ lol­lipop cross­ing pa­trols, road grit­ting op­er­a­tions and ground main­te­nance and the sell­off of day care cen­tres such as Carl­ton Road.

Mr Bell warned that con­tin­ued cuts could leave a coun­cil un­able to do lit­tle more than pro­vide statu­tory care and col­lect rub­bish and re­cy­cling, adding: “If we are to tackle this prob­lem of bal­anc­ing the bud­get we are po­ten­tially look­ing at stop­ping all kinds of ser­vices, and we’re desperately try­ing to see if we can find ways with­out do­ing this.”

He said once this year’s books have been bal­anced the coun­cil will ‘take a deep breath be­fore look­ing at fur­ther ways of sav­ing money’.

The coun­cil ex­pects its core gov­ern­ment fund­ing to be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced over the next few years and will shortly hear how much cen­tral gov­ern­ment fund­ing

TJG1ST it will re­ceive for the year ahead.

Con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion leader Greg Stafford ac­cused Mr Bell of play­ing cyn­i­cal pol­i­tics at the ex­pense of the peo­ple, adding: “The coun­cil needs to make to­tal cuts of £35m to bal­ance the books but it is try­ing to find £50m this year. They want to make the brunt of cuts when they be­lieve they can blame a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment.”

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