Difficult budget for Fenland

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THERE will be no ‘slash and burn in Fenland’ that was the message given by Alan Melton as he presented this year’s district council budget.

Speaking at Thursday’s full council meeting Mr Melton said this was the most difficult budget he has ever had to deal with, but thanks to good housekeeping in previous years it is not as bad as it could have been.

Fenland like local authorities up and down the country has had to make savings, but Mr Melton said these would not be made at the cost of front-line services.

Outlining how this year’s budget was reached Mr Melton explained a cut in council jobs - 81 in total - through voluntary redundancy, job share and natural wastage had saved £1.1million in fact 94 per cent of necessary savings had been made from ‘backroom services’ and only six per cent from the frontline.

But despite the constrained circumstances Mr Melton said there were high hopes that Chatteris could finally get a swimming pool, and March would get improved facilities through money raised by Section 106 agreements from developers planning major developments in both towns.

A total of £100,000 is to be invested in promoting Fenland’s tourism, this will include a new website.

There would also be state-of-the-art computer terminals installed in public buildings and other areas such as supermarkets where people congregate. The public could use these to see what is on offer across the district.

There would be a further £100,000 set aside to help fund community transport projects. Community transport could play an essential part in plugging the gap in public transport in rural areas following the county council’s announcement to phase out bus subsidies for commercially non-viable routes.

Concluding his lengthy speech Mr Melton said: “I am very proud to say that we are not in a situation where we are slash and burn as other councils because of the measures that we have taken in the past, the stewardship of this administration.”