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Tough times ahead as council approves £21m cuts in budget

Cheshire East Council has approved the 2012-2013 budget which aims to save £21m over the next two years. The Conservative-controlled council will achieve the savings by swingeing cuts to adult care, waste and highways – and an increase in service costs.

Cheshire East Council has approved the 2012-2013 budget which aims to save £21m over the next two years.

The Conservative-controlled council will achieve the savings by swingeing cuts to adult care, waste and highways – and an increase in service costs.

More than 150 Cheshire East workers also face the chop.

The budget report – now called the Business Plan – was passed at a meeting of the full council in Congleton.

It means the 2012/13 budget is £246.2million at a cost of £1,216.34 per band D property.

But opposition councillors expressed their fears about changes to adult services and adding to reserves while making cuts. Coun Michael Jones, cabinet member for resources, claimed the budget was ‘robust’ and ‘the best budget in the conditions the council is faced with’.

But opposition councillors fumed, one claiming the budget was akin to ‘signing a blank cheque that will bounce’ and Coun Peter Nurse labelled it ‘grim for Cheshire East’.

Labour councillor Sam Corcoran slammed the proposals to cut services while adding to reserves. He said: “You have run down reserves in good times and boosted them in bad times.

“What disturbs me is that you are building up a war chest which is twice the required levels for an unspecified purpose. These cuts go way beyond what is necessary.”

Coun Laura Jeuda, representing Macclesfield South, warned against cuts to adult care.

She said: “This is a dangerous and risky move that could leave elderly and vulnerable residents without adequate care.”

But cabinet members argued that the council was battling with increasing numbers of elderly residents and lower funding from the Government.

Council leader Wesley Fitzgerald said: “The continued reduction funding, increasing costs pressures and potential changes to our funding arrangement make financial delivery now, and planing for the next three years very difficult.”

He said the proposals maintained ‘high standards in key services to residents and businesses but make necessary reductions and additional charges where appropriate’.

 
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