Deeper cuts expected at Fenland District Council

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No Caption ABCDE ENGANL00120130627155353

Deeper cuts are expected at Fenland District Council as it now has to save a further £934,000 over the next four years.

The council was braced to find £1.8 million worth of savings but following new measures announced by the Government this figure has gone up to £2.212 million.

Households across Fenland have already been asked which services should be saved during a public consultation in September and councillors have now had their say on where the cuts should be made after giving feedback to the comprehensive spending review.

The council has now launched a four-week consultation on its draft business plan and budget, which sets out its overall priorities for the next three years.

Council leader Cllr John Clark said: “The extra savings we now need to find mean that we are facing an even bigger challenge than we first thought. We have made a good start and will take a fresh look at all the options at our meeting on January 14.

“The decisions we are going to have to take are the most difficult and complex I have known in my nine years as a councillor. They will inevitably require compromises on all sides. But we have no alternative.”

The financial settlement for local authorities announced by the Government on December 17 means that the total savings the council must find over the next four years is now £2.212 million.

So far £968,000 of savings for 2016/17 have been identified but that leaves a further £554,000 needed for 2017/18, £1.140 million for 2018/19 and £518,000 for 2019/20.

The council has also now published feedback from the 39 members on possible ways to make savings over the next three to four years.

Among the proposals to receive a high number of votes was to cease the Fenlander page in the Fenland Citizen, saving £3,000 along with changing the way the area’s leisure centres are managed and making better use of the office space in Fenland Hall and The Base.

All the feedback and the revised estimates will be considered at a workshop on January 14, when councillors will be asked to confirm which specific proposals they want officers to work up into full business cases over the coming months.

Once those full business cases have been produced and circulated to councillors, decisions will be made on which savings to implement.

All service areas are still being considered and no firm decisions have yet been made.

The public are being consulted at each stage of the process. An initial survey, held in September and October last year, attracted more than 6,360 responses.

A third consultation will follow later this year when the detailed savings proposals are published.

Council staff will also be consulted before any changes to service delivery or staffing structures are implemented.