West Suffolk: Council unveils �2.7m cuts plan

FINANCE chiefs at a west Suffolk council have unveiled a raft of measures aimed at slicing nearly �3million from their budget.

The proposals touted by St Edmundsbury Borough Council include a 10% cut in grants to parish councils, increasing parking fines by as much as 50% and not replacing vacant posts.

The council last night warned it was expecting its funding from the Government to be cut from �7million to �5million - though admitted it could be even more.

Council leader John Griffiths said many savings had already been made, including lowering the number of staff employed at the authority from 743 in 2005 to just 511 this year.

He said further savings included slashing the amount spent on agency workers by 15% and putting the kibosh on “virtually all overtime”.

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Mr Griffiths warned of reductions in funding to outside organisations which get council money, including community groups.

He said: “Every organisation which received funding from us should have been planning for a funding reduction by carrying out their own work differently, saving �77,000.

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“But we are honouring existing agreements and will not change funding until these end.”

Independent group leader David Nettleton said: “We should be looking at more ways of raising extra income in addition to some of the cost-cutting measures that will be necessary given the reduction in Government grants.

“What is being proposed so far is simply to narrow. I will be presenting proposals to the policy development committee on November 24.”

Ideas looked at, but not pursued by council chiefs, include closing the aviary in the Abbey Gardens, which would have saved �5,000. Alternative sources of funding, such as sponsorship arrangements, could be considered in the future.

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