Council faces cuts of up to £70,000
4:00pm Sunday 20th October 2013 in News
Devizes town councillors could withdraw their representation from twinning events, cut grants to local good causes and review their administration of floral displays to keep their precept down next year.
The council’s plans for the financial year 2014/15 are uncertain after it was told by Wiltshire Council that its revenue support grant from the government could be cut by £70,212, or 17 per cent of its £473,306 requirement.
Government legislation says councils will only get financial support for homes that are not already receiving housing benefit. In Devizes, 15 per cent of households receive this benefit.
Town councillors will not hear until December whether they will get their full grant, part of it or none at all, but in a report to last week’s full town council meeting, officers made recommendations of ways to make savings in their budget in the worst case scenario.
One of the suggestions regarded twinning links with Mayenne in France and Wailblingen in Germany.
The report said: “The council could withdraw from official representation at meetings of the twin towns. This would effectively mean a split between the council and the twin towns as the twinning charters are made at the municipal level.”
The report also suggests cutting back on the administration of the Devizes and Roundway in Bloom competition despite the area again winning a gold award in South West in Bloom this year, which has brought good publicity for the town.
The council could also review its contribution to the Christmas lights in the town centre and save £10,000 of the £20,000 it sets aside for town centre management. It has already pledged £10,000 towards the employment of an events co-ordinator.
It could save £37 each time it sends out agendas for meetings by emailing them to councillors and others rather than posting them.
The report said: “Even though a number of members collect their papers, a single dispatch of agendas using the current pouches costs in the region of £45, which could be reduced to less than £8 were the minimum dispatched by post and supporting documentation sent by email.”
Councillors made no comment about the draft estimates but approved them unanimously.
Town mayor Councillor Pete Smith said: “All town councils, including Devizes Town Council, are facing a very difficult decision resulting from unforeseen consequences in Localism Act. “Through no fault of its own, the council has to decide whether to reduce the level of services it provides for the community or ask for an above inflationary increase in its council tax to maintain current levels.
“Although in the short term central government is providing some funding for all tiers of local government, with the financial pressures that Wiltshire Council are facing at the moment, it is unclear what level of this support funding they will be able to pass on to the towns and parishes.
“Devizes Town Council is looking at a number of scenarios and councillors are working hard with officers to seek a solution.”
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