Fears over plans to slash £1m from Fareham Borough Council budget

Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward
Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward
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ANOTHER £1m will have to be cut from Fareham Borough Council’s budget because of further anticipated reductions in government funding, the authority’s leader has warned.

Councillor Sean Woodward revealed at an executive meeting that plans will be drawn up to claw back the cash from 2017 onwards to ensure the books are balanced.

No details have yet emerged as to whether job losses on the cards and public services are at risk, but a detailed plan will now be drawn up to work out how the money can be found.

But critics warn the council is ‘slowly going bust’ – and have challenged the Tory administration to either oppose the government’s decision to rein back its support and make a stand for more money or ‘resign’.

Speaking at last night’s debate, Ukip councillor Chris Wood said: ‘I will not support cuts to services of this magnitude, and I could not remain a member of a political party which treats local government with such contempt.

‘You have failed to convince the government that our services are essential and you have failed to convince the government that our services are provided efficiently.

You have not only allowed these significant cuts from government to be foisted upon us, but you have stood shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister and his cabinet in total support of these measures.

Ukip Fareham councillor Chris Wood

‘You have not only allowed these significant cuts from government to be foisted upon us, but you have stood shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister and his cabinet in total support of these measures. For if you did not believe that these cuts and these tax rises were correct, you would resign from your position and resign from your party.’

But Cllr Woodward hit back at Cllr Wood’s comments – and assured the budget would be protected in the upcoming 2016/2017 year thanks to the council taking a careful approach and spending wisely.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘We have been making savings for many years. Fortunately we haven’t had to make savings in the areas our residents rely on. They still get their bins emptied, the grass is cut, the borough is still kept clean and tidy, and we look after our green spaces.’

Addressing Cllr Wood’s comments about resigning, Cllr Woodward said: ‘Of course, we could all resign, but where would that get us? Could you sit here and set a budget, which is different from the one we are setting?’

Conservative councillor Susan Bell said Cllr Wood should be instead ‘proud’ of what the council has achieved in the face of spending cuts.