Havering Council budget proposals: 'residents that rely on local services will feel the pinch'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 23 November 2018
Opposition councillors have expressed concerns over what cuts might be made to local services following the announcement of Havering's draft budget proposals.
In the 2019/20 budget, Havering Council’s proposals include plans to spend £30million over the next three years on resurfacing roads and pavements, improved CCTV and increased council tax charges.
Councillor Clarence Barrett, leader of the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Group, told the Recorder: “A budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of values and aspirations.
“However, it is very clear from this set of budget proposals that those values and aspirations are all about penalising residents, motorists and local economies.
“How notable that absent amongst all the draconian savings, often with no real detail as to how they will be delivered, is that the very generous special responsibility allowances enjoyed by the vast majority of Conservative councillors and their Harold Wood supporters remain untouched at £500,000. Clearly, when the Tories said they wanted to keep Havering special, they meant their special allowances.”
Cllr Barrett added that he will be working with his colleagues to present an alternative budget which will focus on sustainability and fairness.
A combination of rising demand for services and reductions in government funding requires Havering to save around £37million over the next three years as part of the council’s contribution to reducing national debt.
Cllr Keith Darvill, leader of the Labour Group, said that his initial response to the budget proposals was one of disappointment and anger towards central government’s continual reductions in funding local government.
“The budget proposals continue to show cuts in public services amounting to �38million over the next four years. It is Havering residents that rely on local services who will feel the pinch,” said Cllr Darvill.
“The Labour Group will look carefully at the proposals to ensure that those least able to afford the impact of, for example council tax benefit reductions are protected.
“Whilst road repairs are needed we will examine the details of what is proposed to ensure fair distribution and as to whether other priorities are not being overlooked.
“Above all we believe our member of Parliament should be sending a firm message to the Treasury that local government is near breaking point and out Schools and Colleges should be properly funded.”
Cllr Damian White, leader of the council, said: “We need to save roughly a quarter of our budget over the next three years so we need to do things differently while facing some tough decisions.
“We are embracing this challenge while focusing all our energy on how we can make an already great place to live even better.
“Make no mistake, we are hugely ambitious for Havering which is why we are working with our community to make our award-winning parks even better and our streets even cleaner and safer.”
The budget proposals will be discussed at Havering Council’s Cabinet meeting on Thursday, November, 29 before final budget proposals are agreed at Full Council on February 20, 2019.