Have your say on Wellingborough Council’s proposed budget cuts

Council leader Paul Bell
Council leader Paul Bell

Wellingborough councillors will be out in the Swansgate Centre on Saturday to hear people’s views on their draft budget.

The council’s resources committee proposed back in December to increase council tax by just under 2 per cent and use about £1.7 million of reserves in order to balance the books for the next financial year.

The committee also agreed that a number of other changes will be looked at throughout the year, as future shortfalls in funding are addressed.

Following the committee meeting, councillors opened a public consultation on the draft budget and encouraged as many people as possible to take part before any final decisions are made in February.

The consultation ends on January 20, and councillors are keen to talk to members of the public before the closing date.

They will be outside Boots Opticians between 10am and midday on Saturday.

Council leader Cllr Paul Bell said: “We are facing an enormous financial challenge as funding from the government continues to be reduced.

“We have just enough in our reserves – like savings in a bank account – to prop up the £1.7 million shortfall for next year, but not for any future years.

“This means that by the time we set the budget the following year, significant changes will have to be in place and difficult decisions will have been made.

“We are asking the public for their views on two things – do they agree with our approach to next year’s budget, of an small increase in council tax and the use of reserves; and do they agree with the things we’re going to look at throughout the year in order to save money in the future.

“Using our reserves this time gives us a small amount of breathing space, but it’s not a long-term solution.

“As we consider and consult on other ways to save money, we will be implementing them straightaway so that they are in place for the following year.

“This means it’s important that people tell us what they think now, so we can take those views into account as we plan.

“We hope to speak to as many people as possible on Saturday morning so we can get an accurate picture of public opinion.

“We’ve already made millions of pounds of savings and it is getting increasingly difficult to find more.”

The council will be looking at seven aspects in a bid to save cash in the future.

These are sharing services with other authorities, building or converting housing to rent out, reviewing and renegotiating contracts, reviewing and potentially reducing community grants, looking at other ways of providing services such as day care, reviewing discretionary rate relief awards, and disposing of assets with high maintenance costs and reinvesting the money.

Fees and charges are also likely to increase in line with inflation.