Districts pleased with settlement

WHILE officials at Endeavour House were today still coming to terms with a tough settlement from the government, Suffolk's boroughs and districts were hearing that things were not as bad as they had feared.

WHILE officials at Endeavour House were today still coming to terms with a tough settlement from the government, Suffolk's boroughs and districts were hearing that things were not as bad as they had feared.

They have received increases from just under four per cent in Suffolk Coastal to as much as 11 pc in Mid Suffolk.

Officers and councillors were breathing a sigh of relief as predictions of a squeeze were not coming true.

Ipswich council finance spokesman John Carnall said: “It seems as if the government has listened to our warnings that the expansion of the town is putting extra pressure on us.

“Last year they didn't pay any attention to our warnings but this time it seems that they have. We have a 5.1 pc increase and that should ease some of the pressure on us.

“But it doesn't mean we can relax - we shall still be looking for efficiency savings.”

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There was a similar message at Suffolk Coastal, which has got a 3.8 pc increase in its government grant.

Leader Ray Herring said the rise would give the district a breathing space - although there would be not spending free-for-all.

“We've seen serious cutbacks over the last few years and this is not going to redress the balance there. We've also been warned there could be a squeeze in the future.

“But this does give us space to breathe for this year. It's as good a settlement as we could have hoped for,” he said.

And at Mid Suffolk, council finance spokesman Ivan Lockett described the announcement of an 11 pc increase in grants as a pleasant surprise.

But he warned: “In real figures, the increase has to pay for free bus travel and the increased costs of licensing, so we are having to provide more services with this grant than we have in previous years.”

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