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Scale of Toxic Tory Legacy Revealed as Council sets About Keeping Council Tax Down and Protecting Services

October 31, 2009 9:02 PM

The scale of the task faced by the new regime of Mayor Dave Hodgson in delivering a budget which keeps tax down and protects vital services after the Tory County Council left its finances in a perilous state has been revealed. Newly-appointed Finance Portfolio Holder, Liberal Democrat Cllr Michael Headley, has set out Bedford Borough Council's current financial situation and declared that the council must make sure that 'every penny' of its budget delivers for local residents.

Commenting, Cllr Headley said: "The Unitary Council has taken on a toxic legacy from the Conservative County Council. It charged the country's second highest rate of County Council tax while providing failing services which saw, for example, crumbling unsafe roads and adult social care services on the point of emergency government intervention. Our task is to improve those services while keeping the council tax level down. We have inherited a predicted 11.5 per cent council tax increase and an overspend of £4.2 million. This has been caused in part by inadequate financial information provided by the County Council, in addition to pressures caused by the current economic situation. Staff from the former County Council were let down by the political leadership, and many of them are now an integral part of the Borough unitary authority.'

"To give an idea of the scale of the task we face, every one per cent reduction in Council tax equates to £700,000 in savings. We are totally committed to achieving the vast savings required to keep council tax down and protect front line services. Local residents will expect nothing less, particularly in these difficult economic times. Over the coming weeks and months we will be poring over the budget line by line, challenging every part of the council to ensure that there is a need for all council expenditure and that residents are getting full value. We must ensure that every single penny of the council budget delivers for local residents."