February 16, 2011
of cuts confirmed by Sedgemoor
of £1.4m for the 2011/12 budget were approved by Sedgemoor
District Councillors on Wednesday (February 16th).
The council has proposed town and parish councils pay for the
running of town halls, although this transition will cost £180,000.
A total of 12 posts will be cut from its workforce of 391 and
CCTV coverage finances will be slashed by £150,000.
The council hopes to use £450,000 from reserves to make
up funding for the next financial year.
Councillors expected a funding shortfall of £1.4m but its
settlement from the government left a shortfall of £1.8m.
The remaining £400,000 was paid out using the council's
At Wednesday's meeting, councillors also decided to freeze the
authority's share of the council tax bill.
Meanwhile, Somerset County Council also made a final decision
on Wednesday to make cuts of £34m from its budget.
DUNCAN McGINTY'S SPEECH IN FULL
District Council Leader Councillor Duncan McGinty made the following
budget speech at Wednesday's annual budget meeting:
"I would like to start with a quote from Harold Wilson -
He who rejects change is the architect of decay."
"I suppose in modern day language and in the words
of the TV ad change happens. We may not like
it, and we may wish that things were as they used to be in
the old days, but Im afraid those days are
behind us. I feel that this Council would be failing all of our
electors if we did not take the extremely difficult decisions
that we have had to, in this harsh financial climate. It is by
taking those very unpopular decisions we now find ourselves in
the position of ensuring that the Council and the services it
provides continue for the future and I present today that all-important
legally balanced budget.'"
"Long gone are the days when the Council Leader (of whatever
political persuasion) stood up and make a long and self-congratulatory
speech about what the Council had achieved over the past year.
(even if there is an election looming). In these days, with the
increased transparency and engagement it has made the Leaders
speech almost superfluous. Its not accompanied by the ceremony
it used to be, and rightly so. Weve been discussing, not
only how to balance the books for this year but the next five
years since April last year."
"The proposals have been formulated, rejected and refined
by my Executive since last summer and have been in the public
domain since November. We have discussed with residents, staff
and parishes, ways of making scant resources go as far as they
could and trying to give all sections of our community what they
would wish for. Its a delicate balancing act which is becoming
harder and harder."
"In October last year, we consulted across the District using
postal questionnaires, events and interviews at supermarkets in
an attempt to reach a wide cross section of residents. We also
went out to Bridgwater College in order to engage with younger
members of our communities and seek their views. This face to
face approach allowed us to talk to many residents, not only on
budget issues but service delivery generally. We had a great response
to this consultation, thereby allowing us to use this to inform
budget decisions with confidence."
"Like all other Councils, we have known that the government
grant was not keeping pace with the rising real world costs
and that was without the additional obligations that have come
our way from national government. However, this year our grant
has been cut by 13.8% - thats £1.2 million. Next year
there will be a further £850,000 to find."
"We are in a relatively fortunate position, in that we have
been extremely forward thinking yet prudent over the past years.
This built-in flexibility and ability to change will allow us
to reconfigure our services, unlike nearby authorities, without
too dramatic cuts to service. However, I fear this is the last
time we will be able to do so, given the dire financial straits
that the public sector finds itself in."
"Sedgemoor District Council is shrinking and will continue
to shrink as we face the challenge of reducing staff number by
up to 25%. We have ceased funding some discretionary services,
which I think of as the stuff we would like to do, rather that
we have to do. However, in the majority of cases, we have found
alternative ways of delivering in many cases with very
positive and forward thinking partnerships with our town and parish
councils and for that I am very grateful."
"The role of a district council is changing from solely a
deliverer of public services, to an organisation that plans strategically
for the long-term. Putting in place plans that enable the delivery
of a strong economy, higher educational attainment and better-quality,
better-paid jobs to improve the quality of life for our residents
and to provide opportunity."
"In balancing this Councils budget for the forthcoming
year, we have identified savings and efficiencies of £1.4
million, which is 8% of our net annual budget and has allowed
us to maintain the priority services."
"We have achieved our budget following the common sense approach
· Reducing costs through improved procurement
· Reducing overhead costs by sharing accommodation
· Undertaking a range of value for money reviews and
· Working closely with our town and parish councils to
jointly fund valued local services.
"Despite there being a zero percent rise in Sedgemoor District
Councils portion of the Council tax, I am pleased to say
that over the past year we have achieved the following:-
· Completion of phase one of Rosewood Farm re-development
· New play space at Apex Park
· Completed refurbishment of exterior of Town Hall at £1.3
· Planning permission for the new pool
· Capital and Revenue Funding strategy for the new pool
· North East Bridgwater, £11 million Kick Start Funding
for affordable homes, 2000 new homes and 1000 new jobs.
· £300,000 for Marine Cove refurbishment
· Developments in nuclear
· Secured future for the halls and arts centre
· Rolled out sort it plus door step recycling across the
district a £500,000 investment
· Completed two skate parks in Bridgwater
· Launched the successful Bridgwater Retail Initiative
which is to be rolled out to other towns in the District to help
traders in the current financial climate
· Secured significant funding from town and parish councils
· Finally achieved a firm offer on the Northgate site after
a seven year procurement process
"In conclusion, I would remind you that not only is Sedgemoor
delivering for the lowest council tax in Somerset but is, at the
same time, regarded as one of the only councils in the entire
south west region to have significant inward investment in the
short, and long term. This is not by accident, but rather because
of our long-term strategies and plans. These are incredibly challenging
but exciting times for Sedgemoor with the potential to transform
the quality of services provided; new schools; raising educational
achievement; new leisure facilities and of course, the ongoing
opportunities and challenges of developments throughout Sedgemoor
with new nuclear and the jobs that will bring to this district."
"Chairman, Members I commend to you the budget proposals
for the coming year. And in doing so, I leave you with another
quote from Harold Wilson to ponder on - 'Whichever party is in
office, the Treasury is in power'."