What your councillors thought of the county’s budget

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Alnwick, Gordon Castle,

Conservative-Independent Group

“It is a balanced budget and I am content with the vast majority of it. I think the impact on services will be minimal but there are some things in the budget I don’t personally like which is why I felt that I was unable to vote for it and abstained instead.

“A lot of the measures that have been agreed are as a result of pressure from the group I belong to such as the changes to Northumberland News and getting rid of the costly community forums.”

Amble, Robert Arckless, Labour

“I find the whole thing thoroughly depressing. In all honesty I don’t think there are many councillors in any political group who feel any enthusiasm for what’s happening. The Government has decided to freeload the cuts on to local authorities and the thing that worries me is that there seems to be no recognition whatsoever that some authorities like Northumberland have had financial difficulties for a very long time.

“To give them some credit they have been very open about this process and there weren’t any real surprises.”

Bamburgh, Pat Scott, Lib Dem

“This has been the most difficult budget I have been involved with. No councillor wants to see staff leaving the authority and especially in many cases where they have given years of loyal service. But the council was faced with such drastic cuts that it was inevitable that this would happen.

“Unfortunately every department in the council has taken a hit. What we have focused on is delivery of front-line services which directly affect the lives of our communities. But the devil is in the detail and only time will tell the consequences.”

Chevington with Longhorsley, Glen Sanderson, Conservative-

Independent Group

“The single most important thing people talk to me about is the state of the roads and potholes and the general condition of them and we have extra funding in the budget for that. People also despise community forums and that is something that our group has been campaigning for a long time and it is great that they been chucked out where they deserve to be. Northumberland News was a total and complete waste of money and it is great that we have got rid of that too.

“I am glad we have managed to avoid having to make serious cuts to front line services and managed to get rid of things like the forums and magazine.”

Lesbury, Roger Styring, deputy leader of the council, Lib Dem

“Overall it was a very tough exercise. We have addressed the issues this year in a systematic way and we are aware that next year we have a tremendous challenge and the year after and the year after.

“We have to save £111million over four years and we have saved £45million this year. We are going to engage with our communities and parish and town councils to work out how we can deliver services best for Northumberland.”

Longhoughton, John Taylor,

Conservative-Independent Group

“It has been a difficult time for negotiations. It has been a bit like being between a rock and a hard place and I am very sorry that we are going to be losing some very valuable members of staff but we have this problem of funding as everybody has. To reach a balanced budget was absolutely necessary and it was agreed with difficulty but that is it. We have now got to make it work for a year.

“The disappointment is that there wasn’t something in the budget for the new Duchess’s High School.”

Norham and Islandshires, Dougie Watkin, Lib Dem

“We are where we are and times are hard. Given that we have done not what we are happy with but what we had to do to ensure the residents of Northumberland get the best service we can possibly give them.

“It hasn’t been pleasant and it has been very very difficult. We appreciate the sentiments of users and staff.

“We have absorbed six district councils in to one and tried to maintain the same level of service.

“I appreciate that there will be very very few people happy with it but I hope they realise we have done the best we can.”

Rothbury, Steven Bridgett, Lib Dem, not affiliated

“This year’s budget represents a significant cut in the overall running of Northumberland County Council. While there are many reductions in areas such as agency staff, publicity and consultancy I believe it does not go far enough, the council is still proposing significant spend in the coming financial year in these areas to the detriment of our front-line services.

“I will continue to shine a light in the coming financial year into the darkest areas of the council’s spending, and show exactly what it is spending residents’ money on.”

Shilbottle, Trevor Thorne,

Conservative-Independent Group

“I think we are facing very hard times and I think it is right and proper that we are being as careful as we can.

“What we are trying to do is protect all front-line services. We are just trying to eliminate any waste or unnecessary spending.

“Obviously the Conservatives are trying to work with the administration. We have things that we wanted to see protected which we have fought or bargained hard with the administration. And in the end I think the budget is good considering the pressures that we are under.”

Wooler, Anthony Murray,

Conservative-Independent Group

“In the days prior to the setting of the budget, the Conservative Group, of which I am a member, was involved in lengthy discussion with the Liberal Administration at County Hall.

“On some important issues relating to the more vulnerable in our communities we were able to persuade them that changes had to be made.

“Those relying on meals on wheels will be relieved that the service will continue and the amount that people may have to subscribe to in home care will be topped at £120.

“I do not think there is enough in the Highways budget to take care of the appalling state of our roads after two hard winters and I am not happy with the shortfall in support for youth services.”

l We were unable to contact Amble West with Warkworth councillor Jeff Watson.