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Latest governement cuts will bite even deeper
FUNDING cuts from central government are expected to put even more pressure on the council budget and local services.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council will see a cut of £533,459 – 14.5 per cent – on the previous year.
Finance and assets spokesman for the council, Peter Chapman, said: “This is obviously extremely bad news and will make setting the 2013/14 budget even more difficult.
“Any room for manoeuvre that the council had over budget options has pretty much disappeared.”
He added: “We will also have to revise downwards the funding that we can expect to receive in future years, which will increase the budget gap going forwards.”
A consultation to discuss with businesses and residents how to reduce non-essential services ended on Sunday.
Proposals include bulldozing the Pavilion and selling the council offices on North Quay and the Guildhall.
The suggestion prompted public outcry, with campaign groups and petitions set up to find an alternative way of keeping the theatre open.
Phil Say, who is fronting the Save the Pavilion group with Louise Domoney, said the announcement could be good news for the campaign. He said: “I think this puts us in an even stronger position.
“Obviously the council cannot carry on subsidising the Pavilion, but bulldozing it would also come with costs. Our business proposal is a substantially cheaper option.”
Results from the consultation will be debated at a management committee meeting on February 5 at the Guildhall, when councillors will also discuss the proposals put forward by the Save the Pavilion group.
The budget will be set at a full council meeting on February 21.
Original estimates suggested that the borough council needs to spend at least £3.9million less each year by 2019/20.
Coun Chapman said: “Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete a questionnaire about the budget proposals.
“The results will help inform councillors’ decisions along with lots of other factors that need to be considered by the management committee and full council in February.”
He added: “Like householders, the council has seen many of its costs, such as fuel and energy, rise far ahead of inflation, “Income and the value of its investments have also fallen.
“In the past the borough council has been able to protect services through efficiencies and partnership working, despite a 28 per cent cut to government funding over the past two years.
“The shared services partnership between West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has saved £2million a year and a joint workforce now delivers services for both councils.”