Cuts could reduce services

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 October 2010

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NORTH Somerset residents may have to get used to a 'lower level of services' when Government funding cuts come into force.

That is according to the leader of North Somerset Council, Nigel Ashton, who is awaiting the announcement of the Government’s comprehensive spending review today (Wed) before finding out how the unitary authority will be affected.

North Somerset Council will have to make cuts of between 25-40 per cent but it is not yet known which services and amenities will be hit.

In the latest council publication of North Somerset Life, Cllr Ashton said: “We have all thought it unfair that we are facing job losses, service cuts, reduction in savings and higher taxes, when it was all someone else’s fault.

“However, it seems to me to be pointless arguing whose fault it is when very shortly the Government will announce details of the cuts required and we are all going to have to get used to a lower level of services.”

The council does not want to speculate on job losses, but says chiefs are ‘working hard’ on a strategy to meet the funding gap.

The unitary authority is looking at ways it can save up to an extra £30million over the next four years.

As well as significant reductions in expenditure it is looking at different ways of delivering services.

A council spokesman added: “Because we have known for some time that a reduction in public spending was on the horizon, we have been working hard to prepare for reduced budgets.

“There is still much more work to do, but we are in a stronger position than many other councils, as we took the decision to act early rather than wait until the exact scale of the budget reductions is known.”

* During a meeting of the Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council, held for the first time in 20 years this month, its chairman Richard Capps urged people to protest against Government cuts, which he fears could cost public sector jobs and impact on public services.

Among the 25 worried employees at the meeting, Andy Prior spoke on behalf of the National Union of Teachers.

He said: “The barrage of propaganda pushed out by the Government to the public is a nasty, deliberate and vicious attempt to divide communities.

“We did not cause this crisis and we are not responsible for it but we are being forced to pay for it through the services we use and our jobs. It was the gangster like behaviour of the bankers in the financial sector that caused this.”

Mr Prior said the union is ‘implacably and unequivocally’ opposed to the cuts and called for a 24-hour public sector strike.

An anti-cuts rally will take place at Broadmead in Bristol at 11am on Saturday.

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