Council warns over budget cutbacks
THE Conservative administration at a district council has warned it has to make £800,000 savings to avoid a 21% council tax rise next year.Roger Saunders, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, believes such a rise in unacceptable and is looking to make cut backs to keep the budget at £9.
THE Conservative administration at a district council has warned it has to make £800,000 savings to avoid a 21% council tax rise next year.
Roger Saunders, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, believes such a rise in unacceptable and is looking to make cut backs to keep the budget at £9.5 million for the next financial year.
This could mean cuts in areas which are popular with some people but which are not seen as essential by the Conservatives.
Mr Saunders has conceded that even if officers and councillors manage to make these cuts, residents will still face a 5% rise in council tax next year.
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Mr Saunders said: "You can't spend money you have not got, we have no other alternative but to try and balance the books.
"We have a commitment to keep council tax rises to a minimum. We have got to do some drastic things because if we don't, council tax will go up they way it used to. People do not want a 21% rise in council tax from April next year and we want to be prudent with their money."
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Mr Saunders is also critical of the previous Liberal-Democrat/Labour administration for using council reserves to keep council tax rises down.
The council wants the leisure centre in Stowmarket to look at savings, and is considering options including privatising it or having it run by a trust.
Mr Saunders said: "Stowmarket should continue to have a leisure centre, but it can not continue to be a black hole swallowing up money at such an alarming rate."
The Conservative administration is keen to see work with the older residents in the district continue, including a new card which gives them discounts in shops and on buses locally. But exactly what cuts will be made have yet to be decided on.
Penny Otton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, was unavailable yesterday.
Duncan Macpherson, a Labour district councillor, said: "This is what the Conservatives are all about, the worst of all worlds.
"You still pay more and get less. Last year they attacked a modest council tax rise at mid Suffolk (under the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties), which brought through improvements.
"Anything could be on the cards, older people paying more in council houses, places shut, people losing their jobs.
"It's never as easy as it seems in power. They made glib promises (when elected) and people were conned in to supporting them.''