War on Council Waste boost

A PENSIONER has backed the East Anglian Daily Times' War on Council Waste campaign.Syd Swan, 81, from Aldeburgh, is one of many people across the region who are continuing to contact us and suggest ways for authorities to save money and help avoid huge rises in Council Tax.

A PENSIONER has backed the East Anglian Daily Times' War on Council Waste campaign.

Syd Swan, 81, from Aldeburgh, is one of many people across the region who are continuing to contact us and suggest ways for authorities to save money and help avoid huge rises in Council Tax.

Mr Swan pays £87 a month in council tax and said "It's ridiculous."

He feels local councils are similar to large companies, where waste can be overlooked and urged them to look at reducing their costs by a range of radical measures.


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He suggests that teachers' pay should be a wholly central government responsibility, that people should pay to borrow books from libraries and that the police and fire service should be regionalised.

He also thinks grants and subsidies should be "stringently reviewed" and no new grants should be made however 'worthy' a case may seem to be.

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Support for the arts should come from its supporters rather than public coffers, Mr Swan said and the need for public lighting and the times it is on should be looked at.

Readers have been quick to suggest where councils could cut out wasteful expenditure and where they could generate more income. We will be putting your suggestions to the region's local authorities.

Mr Swan feels councils should pool its secretarial and other staff services and carry out a stringent review of staff, "starting at the top".

He believes council travel should be strictly limited, and that attendance at professional gatherings should be at the individual's own expense.

Despite a long list of areas where he believes local government can improve, Mr Swan approves of his own district council's performance.

"Suffolk Coastal are very good. I think they are good because they are so quick off the mark on the telephone," he said.

Mr Swan admitted he had no real knowledge of the workings of councils, but felt "a council, especially a county council, is a large organisation where activities take place that are the same as, or similar to, those in any large commercial undertaking and therefore are, or should be, subject to examination and change as a matter of course".

Ray Herring, Leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, pointed out that Suffolk Coastal were looking at how to make their operation more efficient.

"There's room for most local authorities to make savings and inevitably that normally gets put forward as cutting services. The trick really is to reduce the cost of providing those services and the only way you are going to do that is to radically change your approach to how councils are run, which is what we are trying to do at Suffolk Coastal."

Local authorities had to respond to what central government asked of them, he pointed out.

"We do have to respond to local needs and the needs of the less fortunate," he added.

But he admitted that councils needed "to take a more business-like approach to their work and provision of services".

Mr Herring said: "Provision of local services is rather more complex than possibly the East Anglian campaign has highlighted. The impact of the Government grant substantially affects levels of council tax.

"Statutory requirements all have to be delivered and that's expensive, but local authorities do need to take much more of a radical approach to getting and delivery of services."

The financial situation for local authorities in Suffolk is tight with the county council and seven borough and district councils reeling from below-inflation rises in their Government grants.

Suffolk County Council said it needed an extra £29million from the Government to maintain its services, but got just £21m.

There are fears funding deficits will see taxpayers hit in the pocket with another big hike in Council Tax, with householders facing rises of 10%, following last year's record-breaking 18.5% increase.

Council finance bosses said they would have to work harder to make savings to balance their books – particularly as the Government said it would not tolerate Council Tax rises of more than 10%.

n What do you think? You can continue to suggest ideas by writing to War on Council Waste, EADT Newsdesk, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, by telephone on 01473 324737, by fax to 01473 211391 or by email at eadt.newsdesk@eadt.co.uk.

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