Council leader stresses tough times ahead

THURROCK Council is facing making savings estimated at between £30 million to £35 million in its budget between 2015/16 and 2018/19.

Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, made the announcement, speaking at Wednesday (13 November) evening’s meeting of the cabinet, discussing the current budget position.

He said: “Earlier this year we agreed a two-year budget which takes in 2014/15 and tonight we have seen that although there are pressures, we are working on ways to deal with them.

“We always knew there would be pressures and potential overspends, we always knew a two-year budget would not remain unchanged – no budgets ever do, even household ones.

“But just like the sensible household, we are prepared to make changes within the same overall budget, that’s simple common sense.

“Remember, there were pressures last year too and we not only came in on budget – actually with a tiny understand – but we did it in such a way that the accounts were signed off without comment by the auditors and in good time too.”

But he added: “It’s the next three years that concern me. This council provides dozens of different services, some we have to by law and some we do because we always have.”

Cllr Kent said everyone should be concerned about how this will affect services, not just councilors and senior officers, and that he was asking staff and members of the public to think of cost-cutting or finance enhancing ideas.

He said: “To start with I wouldn’t rule anything in or out. Over the past few years we have saved many millions and over the next few we are going to have to do the same again.

“We are going to have to look at providing our services in different ways, we are going to have to take some difficult decisions, and we’re going to have to look for innovations if we are to live with these draconian £35 million cuts expected between 2015 and 2019.

“I can assure everyone that we will do our absolute utmost to find these savings without hitting front line services, but equally, everyone should know it will mean more partnership working, whether that’s with other authorities, with other public bodies like health, police and fire, or with voluntary organisations.”

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