A councillor fears public services will ‘trickle away’ after councils across Suffolk warned of an expected £62.7 million cut in Government funding.
The county’s eight authorities face a reduction in their grants of upto 49 per cent from 2014-16 with Suffolk County Council taking the biggest hit with a £50m cut.
St Edmundsbury Borough expects to lose £1.56m with Forest Heath District taking a £1.28m hit as well as £1.41m from Mid Suffolk District and £1.33m from Babergh.
Bosses have vowed to collaborate further to find ways of protecting and integrating services following a meeting last week with leaders, chief executives and police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.
However, Suffolk County Cllr Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and Independent Group, said: “I don’t think anybody knows where that kind of money can be saved. People’s services will not just diminish, they will trickle away. It’s not (cutting to) the bone, it’s the marrow.” He suggested that a single unitary authority be set up across the county to ‘rationalise costs’.
Cllr Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council, which needs to make £156m in savings by 2017-18, said: “Local government needs to lead by example and find ways of working together to make the savings that are needed.”
St Edmundsbury has saved £3.5m year on year from shared services with Forest Heath.
Leader John Griffiths said: “It’s certainly no picnic and it’s going to be very tough but neither is it a total surprise. St Edmundsbury is already doing things differently and more commercially - investing in our communities while encouraging greater self reliance. In addition sharing services with Forest Heath is already making significant savings. Working even more closely together with them and others in West Suffolk should help to maintain those services which our residents value most.”
James Waters, leader at Forest Heath, said the county council needed to work ‘a lot closer with district and borough councils to deliver services on the ground’.
In a joint statement, Derrick Haley and Jennie Jenkins, leaders at Mid Suffolk and Babergh, which have pulled their staff structures together, said: “There are opportunities to bid for specific grants based on performance and our councils, working with others across Suffolk, will be ruthless in getting the best for our communities. A loss of nearly half of our main source of funding will have implications as to what we can and cannot do.”