No surprises over council funding cuts in West Suffolk

West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142248
West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142248
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Council bosses in West Suffolk say they are well prepared to deal with major cuts in Government funding.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is to receive a revenue support grant of £1.8 million and Forest Heath District Council is to get £1.4 million for 2015/16.

It is a cut of nearly 50 per cent for both authorities over two years with St Edmundsbury receiving £2.6 million in 2014/15 and £3.3 million in 2013/14. Forest Heath got £2 million in 2014/15 and £2.6 million in 2013/14.

Cllrs John Griffiths and James Waters, leaders of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath, said they had been planning for a ‘very serious reduction’ and the authorities were in a ‘stronger financial position than many other councils’.

They said work to share services between the councils is delivering £3.5 million in annual savings. They are also looking to invest in partnerships such as the Mildenhall Hub and the second phase of the Public Service Village in Bury St Edmunds which will bring councils, health, emergency services and other agencies - ‘delivering better services while saving huge sums of money’.

St Edmundsbury is looking at a budget gap of £1.5 million for 2015/16 and has consulted on options such as reducing the running costs of the Bury St Edmunds bus station building.

Forest Heath has a budget gap of £1.1 million for 2015/16 and has also consulted on a number of measures including options for Mildenhall bus station building.

Cllrs Griffiths and Waters added: “We are behaving more commercially, investing to save, constantly looking for new ways of delivering the best services with less resources and getting the job done for our residents and businesses.”

Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils will receive £1.6 million and £1.5 million respectively in 2015/16 . This compares with £2.3 million for Mid Suffolk and £2.2 million for Babergh in 2014/15.

Cllrs Derrick Haley and Jennie Jenkins, leaders of Mid Suffolk and Babergh, said: “The figures are broadly in line with what we have been basing our plans on for next year. We are seeing another significant reduction in our grant, but we have been planning for this and we are looking at other ways that we can raise income to replace the loss of grant. As a result of this there will not be any significant reduction in services for 2015/16.”

Suffolk County Council’s funding will be £89.4 million .

Leader Cllr Mark Bee said: “It’s broadly what we expected. There are still a lot of details we need to go through.”