‘Tough challenges are ahead’ for the council

Spending cuts: Councils will have to watch their pennies.
Spending cuts: Councils will have to watch their pennies.
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Preston Council bosses have today spoken of the ‘tough challenges’ they face as they look to make even deeper cuts to their budget.

As part of their annual government settlement, the authority’s overall spending power of £23m will be slashed by 6.7 per cent over the next year - around £1.5m.

Town Hall bosses said job losses were a ‘possibility’ as there were ‘no more efficiences to make’ - and warned the year after could be even worse.

Deputy leader Coun John Swindells stressed that no decisions had yet been made.

He said: “We are looking at everything we do, right across, to see where savings can be made.

“We are going down the list and saying ‘you can’t touch this and you can’t touch that’.

“And then you get to the end and you realise you still haven’t saved enough.

“It gets to the stage where you have to look at stopping doing things and taking bits out. Of course job losses are a possibility.”

Lancashire County Council said it was in a ‘very challenging position’ and will have its overall spending cut by 2.2 per cent, South Ribble Council by 2.1 per cent, and Lancaster Council by 2.2 per cent.

Fylde Council will have its budget cut by 1.2 per cent and Wyre by 1.7 per cent, equating to around £496,000.

Initial figures suggested Chorley Council would be better off, with a rise in their overall spending power next year of 1.4 per cent.

But bosses say in reality they were looking at a cut of around 7.4 per cent.

And local authorities have hit out at the timing of the announcement, which comes much later than in previous years, and leaves little time to react to the annoucements before the budgets for the next financial year are drawn up.

Coun Swindells said: “We keep being told we are all in this together but the North seems to be coming out the worst.

“We have not finalised anything yet. We are number crunching at the moment and the devil is in the detail.

“The country has to save money and this puts into perspective why decisions like the bus station are so important.

“Our priority at the moment is around the markets. We made a commitment to the traders.

“And we want to protect the cuts to leisure as best we can. But we don’t know about that yet.

“All the efficiency savings have already been made and we are like everyone else, we don’t want to cut things, but then you think about what can you touch.” Lancaster has a 2.2 per cent spending cut.