Council say services will not be scrapped

THE CASH-STRAPPED District Council have said that they are optimistic about the future in the face of cuts.

Despite already having a lean budget, West Lindsey District Council say they are pleased to announce that most of this year’s budget will be balanced with efficiencies and income, with no services being scrapped.

Leader of West Lindsey District Council Burt Keimach said: “We received the worst district council settlement on government funding in Lincolnshire and amongst one of the worst in the country but we are proposing no council tax rise.”

Coun Keimach added: “We still have a lot of work to do, but early indications show we will be able to balance our budget for this financial year, without impacting on key services, expensive redundancies or an increase in council tax.”

West Lindsey District Council has to find £2.5 million in savings over the next two years and another £250,000 from pressures such as impact of inflation after the Comprehensive Spending Review. The council held a number of workshops in November, December and January to discuss how best to tackle the budget with residents.

Mr Keimach continued: “We had an impressive 733 responses from the Citizens Panel and they were all broadly in support of the councils’ strategy.”

“In particular they wanted to see more income generation rather than stopping services to deal with the shortfall although they agreed that services needed to be rationalised where they may have been replaced in other ways.”

“What was surprising was residents were often more willing to accept harsher service reductions than the ones we are suggesting. They also felt rather than the tax payers paying, a user should pay for certain services such as bulky goods collections, where over 82 per cent supported a user pays approach.” 

A spokesman said that although the council’s budget will not be officially agreed until Monday 7th March, they believe it is looking promising.

Chief Executive Manjeet Gill has attributed this achievement to the entrepreneurial staff working within the authority, who she says have been creative in reducing costs.

“We would not be in this position today if it was not for the fantastic involvement from councillors, parishes, residents, partners, businesses and trade unions. Everyone has worked responsibly as a team,” she said. “Over 90 per cent has been found from efficiencies such as £138,000 from management costs and similar approaches.”

Branch secretary for Unison at West Lindsey Carol Bond said: “West Lindsey has been hit particularly hard but by confronting the problem at the earliest point and charging everyone to come up with ideas and identifying savings in every area it has been possible to prevent any compulsory redundancies at this time.”