Havering Council to lose 28 per cent of its income

Councillors face a tough job deciding where the axe will fall

SERVICES provided by the council will be cut by 7.1 per cent over the next four years.

This would see a total of �15.6 million being slashed from the budget, based on the council’s total expenditure for this year.

The number of grants given by the Government will also be dramatically reduced – from 90 to ten.

Councillors at Havering will be free to manage their affairs more freely, however, as ringfenced funds will be removed.

This means that councillors will not be forced to spend a proportion of its income on specific areas.

They will also be allowed to borrow against a predicted rise in future business rates.

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Announcing a comprehensive range of cuts, and some investment, in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review today in Parliament, Chancellor George Osborne said that Britain has the largest structural debt in Europe, with a current debt of �43 billion due to rise to �63b in the financial year of 2014/15.

He said the Coalition would bring Britain “back from the brink of bankruptcy.

“It takes time to turn around the debt supertanker,” he told a packed house.

“To back down now and abandon our plans would be the road to economic ruin.”

Leader of Havering Council’s opposition, councillor Clarence Barrett said cutting 28 per cent from the council’s budget over the next four years would have “a very significant impact on the services we deliver and how the council operates”.

He added: “It is vital that front line services are protected while ensuring our more vulnerable residents do not suffer. Banishing waste, duplication and working more efficiently are absolutely key in responding to these budget reductions.”

Cllr Barrett also said he was concerned for public safety.

“It is a concern that our police force will be facing cuts of four per cent per year as it almost inevitable that this will impact on the numbers of police officers we have on our streets.”

Havering Police’s Borough Commander, Mick Smith declined to comment on the cuts.

Leader of Havering Council’s Labour Group, Cllr Keith Darvill said they would have “quite a serious affect” on services.

“It’s going to be very difficult because we’ve already cut over the past eight years looking at efficiency savings and charities supported by the council.”

Cllr Darvill said areas where he thought the council would make cuts would be in parks, library services, leisure facilities and charities.

“It seems to be me that if we want the voluntary sector to take up some of the slack in terms of the Big Society, whatever that means, you’re in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

He said sports facilities in Havering were already in danger of becoming too expensive for residents on lower incomes and he also had concerns about Queens Theatre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, which receives council funding.