Service cuts for Suffolk council

EXTRA costs of more than £1.3 million will have to be funded by Suffolk Coastal council tax payers – unless substantial savings can be found.Councillors are also considering big price rises for parking, swimming, sports centres and beach hut rents.

EXTRA costs of more than £1.3 million will have to be funded by Suffolk Coastal council tax payers – unless substantial savings can be found.

Councillors are also considering big price rises for parking, swimming, sports centres and beach hut rents.

Families in Felixstowe, Martlesham, Kesgrave, Woodbridge and The Trimleys are still reeling from this year's enormous tax demand.

Most of the 18 per cent rise came from the county council's demands, while Suffolk Coastal kept its increase down to just 7.7pc.

But bosses at the district authority say there will be tough decisions ahead if next year's tax rise is to be kept as low.

Director of finance Peter Collicott said £1.3 million would have to be added to the council's current spending of £12.7m before any new projects or additional services could even be considered.

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Pay increases would add £420,000, price increases an extra £300,000, government-imposed changes £190,000, service developments already agreed would add £100,000, and there would be a drop in investment income of £150,000, plus other costs.

The council could expect around £110,000 in extra government grant – not even enough to pay for the extra items Whitehall is forcing the authority to carry out.

This would mean £1.2 million having to be found by savings through the council's new Moving Forward Together (MFT) project to make it operate more like a business, and additional income by raising car parking, leisure and other prices.

Any shortfall would then have to be paid by the tax payers.

Mr Collicott said increases of fees and charges would need to be substantial.

"Government is planning to give local authorities more freedoms to raise income by allowing new charges to be levied for certain activities," he said.

"Some constraints will inevitably apply, but the council will need to examine closely any new opportunities that may arise.

"It is clear that the council will again need to make substantial reductions in existing budgets in order to contain its spending growth at an appropriate level."

In 2002, one-third of councils overspent their budgets, with six pc overspending by ten pc. Suffolk Coastal though is proud to have never overspent – and to also hold £16m in reserves for future projects and help overcome cashflow problems.

For the past couple of years it has been faced with axing around £800,000 from its budget and it is hoped the Moving Forward Together project will make the council more efficient and improve management.

The current Band D rate is £114.30 and of every £10 council tax paid in the district for the main councils only £1.03 goes to the district council.

n Send us your views about the council tax – Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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