Council project funding could be cut

OPPOSITION members at Endeavour House have reacted with fury after it emerged that the new leaders are to cut spending on some projects by a quarter.Conservative councillors want to cut the amount of the locality budgets available for spending by individual councillors from £1million a year to £750,000.

OPPOSITION members at Endeavour House have reacted with fury after it emerged that the new leaders are to cut spending on some projects by a quarter.

Conservative councillors want to cut the amount of the locality budgets available for spending by individual councillors from £1million a year to £750,000.

And they also want to reduce the amount councillors can hold over to the following year to 50 per cent of this.

Locality budgets were introduced by the previous Labour/Liberal Democrat administration in 2000.

They give every councillor a sum of money to spend on projects in their division.

Since 2001, the total amount allocated for locality budgets has been set at £1 million a year.

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Some councillors have held some of their money over from year to year to allow it to build up to spend on major projects.

Others have linked up with fellow councillors to increase the amount that could be spent on individual projects.

Labour councillor Tony Lewis, who represents the Whitton and Whitehouse division in Ipswich, warned that some of the projects he had sponsored would be threatened.

He said: "There have been occasions, for instance when three of us clubbed together and carried over our budgets to buy new play equipment for Congreve Road as part of a borough council project.

"And I've also held over part of my budget to allow an artist in residence to go to Thurleston School and provide a service for all the schools in the area.

"All these would be threatened by the new rules."

The new finance proposal is to be discussed by Suffolk County Council's cabinet tomorrow morning.

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke said the money saved from the locality budgets would be used on county-wide projects.

He said: "But we have to get the message across to council tax payers that we are going to be careful with their money from now on - in the past this money was not spent and just kept growing and growing.

"We can't lose track of money like that any more. It's time for a reality check,"

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