Labour supports £7.5m of cuts over next 5 years in Lib-Dem Budget for Colchester 

The Lib-Dem group controlling Colchester City Council, supported by their Labour allies, have proposed a whopping series of cuts in front-line services over the next 5 years totalling £7.5m per annum or 25% of our net expenditure on services.

The cuts come in two parts:  £4.7m broadly identified in the Fit for the Future programme and a further £2.8m of further unidentified cuts required because the budget still won’t balance.   

Fit for the Future is an elaborate programme intended to generate ideas for improved efficiency from the bottom up.  Committees will be formed and it will even have its own communications programme.  The largest areas identified for savings are:

  • Increased charges for garden waste collection
  • Assumed savings at the expiration of the ID Verde maintenance contract which we fear will reduce verge cutting and road sweeping.
  • A corporate landlord model which will centralise property management, but may increase medium term costs as the backlog in repairs to Council assets such as the town hall is documented.

The impact on staff numbers has yet to be identified, and there is no redundancy provision in the forward projections.

Conservative finance spokesman, Cllr William Sunnucks (Rural North Ward) said: "We would take a very different approach.  Cost cutting can’t be done by committee: it needs leadership and a recognition that the Council’s sprawling activities should be focussed on what matters to residents. 

In our world a large portion of the savings would be achieved by rationalising the Council’s balance sheet as proposed in our budget amendments.  The remainder would come from rigorous benchmarking of activities against public, private and third sector equivalents.”

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Paul Dundas (Tiptree Ward) added: "Council expenditure can roughly be divided into two categories: Frontline services which should be our priority, and Discretionary services which the Council can provide if it so wishes. The Council is locked into spending too much on discretionary services, often in an illogical & wasteful manner.

A future Conservative Administration pledges to get to grips with this problem and ensure that these savings are not axed from essential front-line services. We had hoped that the Labour Party would join us in condemning the way these cuts have been made, but apparently they too are now into axing front-line services.