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Swale to cut £5m off its budget over the next five years

Roy Bennett with Cllr Andrew Bowles
Roy Bennett with Cllr Andrew Bowles

by Hayley Robinson

Jobs could be lost and services cut as Swale Borough Council tries to save £5 million over the next three years.

Council leader Cllr Andrew Bowles has revealed a third of the savings would be made in the next financial year, 2010/2011, with the budget being cut by £2 million to just short of £18 million as costs are cut in anticipation of a far-reaching squeeze on public spending.

But despite the grim outlook, the ruling Conservative administration is confident the axe will not fall on its key frontline services.

Cllr Bowles said: "We are looking at literally everything, from resources for members to the role of the mayor.

"There will be a cut in services but it will be cuts in backroom services not frontline services, that's the intention.

"We are also trying to work in collaboration with other local authorities to see if we can deliver services jointly such as legal, revenue and benefits and graphics.

"Members' allowances are not set by the council, they're set by an independent body, so we have no influence over that.

"The cutbacks are largely because the indications are that there will be a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in funding [from central government] for local councils and rather than leaving it all until the last minute we are phasing it in.

"In addition, there has also been a reduction in income as there are not as many planning developments going through and there's not so much income from parking fees."

A budget task force made up of a group of working councillors has been working with finance officers and senior council managers in a bid to find ways of cutting costs.

Cllr Bowles added: "There will be a draft report of the findings going to the council's executive on Wednesday, December 9."

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