County must cut £30m from budget

FORMAL planning has started to cut £30million from the Northumberland County Council’s budget over the next three years.

Planning for the budget savings will be based on priorities, which were identified in a major consultation process last year.

To meet the Government’s required savings targets, the council will be moving to a three-year planning cycle, which will encourage a longer-term approach and avoid cutting back on the same things each year.

Council departments are identifying a range of potential savings, which can then be considered by councillors.

The Executive, all elected members of the county council, area committees, town and parish councils will all discuss the important decisions.

A final set of proposals will be considered by the county council in February.

Council leader Coun Jeff Reid said: “The council will need to make some difficult decisions over the next three years because we need to save at least £30million during that time.

“We’re determined to make the best use of the money we have available. By becoming even more efficient and squeezing value out of every penny we invest in our operations I’m confident that we can continue providing an excellent service for Northumberland residents.”

“Local people have told us what they value the most and we’ll be aiming to shape our services around those specific needs. By taking a longer-term approach this time, the savings we do identify will be more measured, planned and deliverable in line with our overall spending plans.

“Despite these very tough conditions we must continue investing in local services and providing the framework for people in Northumberland to thrive. An additional £42million investment in the capital programme this year showed that we can still have a major impact on people’s lives by investing in key priorities such as schools, leisure, flood defence, roads and affordable housing – all areas that residents tell us are the most important to them.”

A copy of the consultation report that sets out residents’ views can be found on the council website at: www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=6277#consult