Council faces £ 10m black hole
Council leaders and finance chiefs are battling to plug a £ 10million budget ‘ black hole’
. Council leader Marco Cereste is confident of balancing the books but opposition councillors fear more cuts.
Council bosses have revealed they are working to fill a £ 10 million black hole in next year’s budget – leading to fears over frontline cuts. Councillor Marco Cereste, leader of Peterborough City Council, told the PT that the authority had found itself £ 10 million worse off than expected for the 2013/ 14 budget, as the harsh realities of the current economic climate continue to bite.
The council chief said most of the shortfall had been made up and was “confident” that the books would be balanced in time for the publication of the budget on January 25.
But Mr Cereste said he could not reveal details about savings before the budget is announced, leading to opposition leaders raising fears that frontline services could be affected.
Mr Cereste said: “This has come about due to the financial pressures councils are facing at the moment.
“Rising inflation combined with a loss of previous government grants, meant we found ourselves £ 1 0 million worse off than we expected for the 2013/ 14 budget. “We have worked hard to recover most of that and have got a few more meetings before the budget is published to work things out, so I’m confident that we will balance the books be- fore January 25.”
Mr Cereste said he could not comment on whether any cuts or tax rises would be made, due to the sensitivity of the budgeting process.
But he added: “We need to improve revenue for the local authority that will enable us to keep rates down and deliver frontline services.
“We are looking at all sorts of options to generate income.”
But the news raised concern among political leaders in Peterborough.
Nazim Khan, leader of the Peterborough Labour Party, said: “We had predicted that there might be a shortfall of four or five million, but £ 10 million is a serious blow to the people.
“We might have to lose some frontline services, I only see more cuts becoming a reality.
“It’s all very well Cllr Cereste being confident of filling the shortfall, but it is an awful lot of money to recoup.”
Nick Sandford, leader of the Peterborough Liberal Democrats, said: “We should be focusing on essential services rather than lining the pockets of private contractors.
“We have already seen the closures of care homes, you have to question what will be next.”
Last year, the council announced council tax was rising by nearly three per cent and that 70 jobs were being axed.