Havering budget proposals approved by council

HAVERING came a step closer to making its large package of savings after Town Hall chiefs approved the current plans for its forthcoming budget in line with recent government announcements.

At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (January 19), members accepted proposals which would result in the council saving �19.6m over two years.

This followed the government’s comprehensive spending review and local government settlement figures being announced, which were similar to those expected by the council since it began planning savings in 2009.

The intentions to freeze council tax, and cut staffing jobs were reiterated by member for value Cllr Roger Ramsey.

He said: “It’s easy to just glibly refer to savings but it’s actually people’s careers and lives involved. It’s something we’ve done with a heavy heart and I want to thank everyone who’s done what they can to mitigate these problems.”

Cllr Ramsey also said that the comprehensive spending review means that additional savings for the two years at the end of the period 2011-14 need to be identified and that they will be done “sooner rather than later” in order to preserve services.

He said that there will be a further review and report during the summer to outline possible additional savings that need to be made.

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Praise was given to the council’s officers for writing a report in July which anticipated the level of savings that were likely to be needed as a result of the government plans.

Cllr Ramsey said: “I would like to congratulate our officers who got it pretty well spot on. I think given the complexities of the whole thing, that is quite remarkable.

Ray Morgon, of the Residents Association group, agreed with him: “I think that’s one thing the Conservative group and ourselves can agree on, unlike the Labour group who wanted to defer it to the autumn which would have put us in a much more difficult position.”

Labour group leader Cllr Keith Darvill replied that they had only asked for a short delay so that the overview and scrutiny committee could do a thorough job.

The report was the second of three to be approved by the cabinet, with the next due on February 9.

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