Fear of more cuts by North Somerset Council
By Prue_Reid | Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 13:07
Another shock announcement about a multi-million pound funding gap by North Somerset Council has put more public services at risk from of cuts or privatisation.
Work has begun at Weston town hall to find ways of plugging a multi-million pound funding gap
The district council says it could be facing an additional £39m funding gap over the next five years, due to extra Government cutbacks in public expenditure.
The stark news comes after the council has already taken extensive steps to close an identified £47.3m gap between 2011 and 2015.
This new announcement takes the total savings required to £86.3m by 2018.
The extra funding pressures follow a series of Government announcements signalling that national austerity measures are likely to continue for a further three years at least.
Initial analysis carried out by the council suggests that if current projections are confirmed, by 2018, the council could have only half the funding it had in 2010-11 to fund services for local people.
North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton said the council had done a great job in identifying savings so far but the extra £39m presented a serious challenge.
He said: "Officers and councillors have worked extremely hard during the past two years to streamline services and introduce more efficient ways of working in order to make savings.
"This has been a huge undertaking and many difficult decisions have had to be made.
"This additional £39m in savings will test us even further but we have given ourselves time to plan ahead so the right decisions can be made.
"However, there is no doubt these additional enforced savings will have a serious effect on local services."
The council has so far identified massive savings in the run up to 2015 by re-designing services and not closing them. Examples include:
- Transferring the running of the Playhouse Theatre and Winter Gardens in Weston to a private sector company;
- Reducing the council's office bases from 18 to two, saving £700,000 per year;
- Introducing self service facilities into libraries: and
- Community volunteers supporting the running of some facilities for example at libraries.
The council is now starting work on a new round of financial planning which will detail the budget proposals that need to be considered for the next five years.
This will be considered by the council's executive on Tuesday, October 23.