Cuts will stretch services to breaking point, say opposition leaders

OPPOSITION leaders have pointed to the devils in the detail as they reacted to North Somerset Council’s draft budget proposals.

Richard Tucker and Mike Bell, leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups respectively, both say the choices made by the Conservative administration could stretch key services to breaking point.

Cllr Bell says his party will offer alternatives to the proposals, which the authority is making in light of the �47.3million savings it must make over the next three years.

In particular he said his party was concerned about reductions in social services, youth services, street cleaning and highway maintenance, and the potential loss of funding for all the district’s floral displays.

Saying that the harsh financial settlement handed to the authority by the Government was a legacy of Labour’s time in Westminster, he said: “There are no easy choices and no simple decisions.

“However, there are still choices and I have some real concerns - as always the devil is in the detail, and we will need to look closely at the cuts proposed.”

He said some of the alternatives his party would offer to the administration’s draft proposals included cutting councillor numbers and scrapping the councillor pensioner scheme, cutbacks to management costs and use of more external advisers and a reduction or end to the North Somerset Life magazine.

Most Read

Cllr Tucker said his party was also concerned about the scale of cutbacks across key services, and that 120 jobs were due to go in financial year 2011/12 alone, saying: “With our growing and ageing population the pressures on our already stretched services are getting to breaking point.

“When the last administration was in the council, they were quick to arrange a deputation to Downing Street to complain about our funding levels and then received some extra. It is strange then they are not doing this now.”

Both leaders criticised the council’s decision to move around 500 staff to the Castlewood site in Clevedon from satellite bases across the district, a move that may ultimately cost around �26.8million over the coming two decades.