Gosport Borough Council faces cuts of £1.2m funding across five years

DECISIONS 'Cllr Mark Hook
DECISIONS 'Cllr Mark Hook

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GOSPORT Borough Council faces a cut of £700,000 in its funding from government next year.

Conservative leader Mark Hook told The News he expects the council will receive £4.1m from government, a reduction from £4.8m.

But he said a reorganisation of staff, including some now working fewer hours, 12 jobs lost and the sharing of departments with other councils, have already led to a saving of more than £500,000.

He added: ‘There are people who have taken voluntary redundancy.

‘And some people will go down from a five-day working week to a three-day week.

‘It’s been a complete reorganisation, it’s not just those 12 posts.’

Cllr Hook added the council is not going to cut front-line services or increase council tax, and that reduction gives a ‘window of opportunity.’

‘We’ll be looking at trying to reduce costs, but not affecting front-line services,’ he said.

‘Whenever you have these situations you have to look at it as a window of opportunity, “how do we do things smarter?”.’

A council report indicates further cuts could follow, with a possible reduction of £333,000 in 2015/16 and then £35,000 in 2016/17 and the same again in 2017/18.

The report said a reduction of £1.2m in spending will be needed to keep council tax at ‘acceptable levels’.

The report shows that the council underspent its general fund revenue budget by £363,987 for 2012/13, with £170,992 carried forward, the remainder goes to reserves.

There was also a £953,540 scheme slippage in its capital budget, now carried forward.

Cllr Dennis Wright is leader of the Labour opposition.

He said: ‘We’ve already lost £1.7m over the last two years, and now £700,00 on top of that – we just can’t go on like this.

‘Services are going to have to be cut back, and the staff are suffering. We’re now going to have to look at further (staff) reductions.’

The council now shares audit staff with Eastleigh council, and environmental health and building control with Fareham.

Cllr Peter Chegwyn is the leader of the Liberal Democrats opposition group.

He said: ‘Gosport is actually not doing too badly out of government funding compared to many others.

‘Mark Hook should wait and see what the actual figures are.

‘It’s wrong to blame the government; Cllr Hook should look at who runs his own council rather than pass the buck.’