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Council loses £1.6m in spending cuts

Swale Council leader Andrew Bowles
Swale Council leader Andrew Bowles

By Hayley Robinson

Swale council will get £1.6m less than expected in government funds for the next financial year.

The council will now have to make do with just £9,561,000, it was revealed on Monday when the government outlined what individual councils across the country would receive.

Tory council leader Cllr Andrew Bowles (pictured) has reiterated the borough is in for tough times ahead with cuts to services and staff.

But he would not be drawn on specifics – saying the picture would become clearer in the coming weeks.

"The reduction is actually 14.9 per cent for the next financial year," he said.

"In addition to this, we have also lost some specific grants we have previously had access to.

"There are some funding streams that we may receive money from but we will not know about these until possibly February.

"The announcement will inevitably mean that a number of staff are officially now at risk but it is not possible to say how many because of the unknown funding streams yet to be allocated.

"I think it’s manageable in the short term. It’s towards the upper end, or if you like the more pessimistic end, we were expecting.

"It’s not totally out of line with what we were planning for but its going to be very tough."

In a bid to save money the council is looking at sharing services and staff with other local authorities.

It has already moved Swale’s CCTV to a centre in Medway and already has arrangements in place to share senior officers in finance with Kent County Council and human resources, audit and legal with Ashford, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone boroughs.

The council is also looking at the possibility of freezing council tax which in turn will qualify it for further central government cash.

Cllr Bowles added: "It would be irresponsible not to look at if it means we can lessen the blow to the residents of Swale."

Despite more government money being available for deprived areas across Britain, it seems Swale will not be getting any.

"We are disappointed with the announcement, particularly given that we are a borough that has some of the worst areas of deprivation in the county."

Where should the axe fall? What services are you most worried about? Should politicians of all parties been more honest before the general election? Email us at sittingbourne@thekmgroup.co.uk

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