Budget is not as bad as feared, says leader

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NORTHUMBERLAND County Council leader Jeff Reid has promised that the authority’s budget for the coming year will deliver what people want despite cuts of over £46m.

At Monday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s executive, members approved the budget to go before the full council on Wednesday, February 23.

The general fund budget will be just over £479m excluding parish precepts and based on a formula grant from the Government of nearly £129m.

Coun Reid, of Plessey in Blyth, said: “This isn’t as bad as it could have been, and it’s not as bad as some other councils.

“It delivers what we have been asked by the people of Northumberland to deliver and it doesn’t raise the council tax because we have taken the Government’s incentive not to do so.”

Efficiency savings of over £46.5m were approved, along with the use of up to £7.5m of reserve funds.

to support the budget.

Following a meeting of the Economic Prosperity and Strategic Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee last Friday, Coun Gordon Castle raised several potential issues including the ‘unexpected’ increase in capital IT funding and the county council raising an extra £300,000 from textile collections at recycling points.

Coun Castle also highlighted the lack of capital funding provision for Duchess’s High School in Alnwick.

While the committee appreciated that the Leader had previously said that capital would not be committed until government funding was known, they were concerned that no notional figure was shown.

Chief executive Steve Stewart said: “It would be a finger in the air job until we know what the government are prepared to put in.”

Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate resources, conceded that there were some issues and details to be cleared up and discussed before the full council meeting on February 23.

“I hope there will be some sensible political dialogue before then,” he added.