Council set to prune brudget
SHRUB beds are set to be grassed over and tourist publicity reduced as a district council tries to shave £1.3 million from its budget next year.A series of measures aimed at cutting costs will be put before Suffolk Coastal district councillors when they meet next month .
SHRUB beds are set to be grassed over and tourist publicity reduced as a district council tries to shave £1.3 million from its budget next year.
A series of measures aimed at cutting costs will be put before Suffolk Coastal district councillors when they meet next month .
The council wants to keep its council tax rise to 5% or below, but faces tough challenges if, as seems likely, the Government does not significantly increase its grant contribution.
Council bosses have been asked to identify areas where savings can be made, and have come up with a range of cost-cutting proposals, due to be discussed by the council's corporate management committee on December 8.
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Some may prove controversial, including proposals to charge parish and town councils for work on rural beach flag awards. Work on Felixstowe's blue flag award would be unaffected.
There are also plans to move towards market rates for licence fees on beach huts and chalets, with increases of 5% in 2005 and 2006 and 10% in 2007.
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Public conveniences are set to be decorated less frequently, and the maintenance budget for parks, sports grounds and playing fields cut.
It is also proposed that 30% of shrub beds across the district should be grassed over, and the council is likely to seek sponsorship to fund the 3D display outside Felixstowe Leisure Centre and the themed carpet bedding displays at the seafront gardens.
Cuts in tourism promotion include ending a contribution to the East of England Tourist Board for overseas marketing, which would bring a yearly saving of £3,500, and ceasing the council's subscriptions of Eastern Screen, which acts as a contact point for film companies seeking locations, and the Suffolk Tourism Association.
Tourism signage is set to be reduced, and spending on tourism marketing and advertising.
The council also plans to review its parish tree-planting scheme to produce savings of £2,200 and free up ten staff days a year.
Free poop scoops for pet owners are likely to become a thing of the past, and waste collection charges introduced for difficult or specialist waste such as paint. Charges for bulky waste collection are also set to rise significantly.
Council leader Ray Herring said they had so far identified around £900,000 worth of savings for this year, and had “broken the back of it”. They still have to find a further £236,000, but he was reasonably confident they would manage that.
“The vast majority will understand that what we put forward is quite a sensible range of savings and at least realise we as a local authority do have to make choices and we do have to balance what we provide against the interest of the council tax payer.
“In some cases it will mean some tough choices and it will mean things will have to be provided a little bit differently than how we have provided them before,” he said.
“We have little choice because of lack of Government funding than to make significant savings in our budget.”