Cheshire East budget plans

The government is imposing their so-called austerity cuts on local councils
across the country and Cheshire East is no exception. In fact, the main 
government revenue support grant to Cheshire East Council will be phased out
completely over the next 4 years. This will obviously create financial
challenges for the Council. Over the last few years, the Cheshire East
Labour Group have been warning of the challenges ahead and pressing the
Conservatives to plan ahead for more than one year; so the publishing of a
3-year budget consultation document is welcome. The level of detail provided
is also greater than in previous years; something else that the Labour Group
have called for. Over the coming weeks the Labour group will be scrutinising
the budget information to support communities and preserve the services that
sustain the most vulnerable.

The 3 year projections assume that Council Tax will rise by close to 4% a
year for the next 3 years.

Sam Corcoran, Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East,
said, "I am pleased that the financial plans are now being put in the open.
This enables a reasoned debate over what services people are prepared to pay
for and which services they are prepared to lose. For example, the Arclid
Household Waste Site near Sandbach is set for closure. This is a valued
local facility with high recycling rates; I will be working with the local
community to see if a way can be found to keep this site open."

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, "It is only a few
months since the Conservatives forced through increases in councillor
allowances, which Labour opposed. Despite the independent reviewer raising
concerns about the number of councillors who receive extra allowances (55%
of councillors receive an additional allowance and the greatest number are
Conservative) the Conservatives refused to remove the extra allowances paid
to Cabinet Support Members. Now that we can see the extent of the financial
challenges facing the Council, the Conservatives' decision to award
themselves a pay rise looks badly mistimed."

Irene Faseyi, Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said, "Given the
financial pressures being forced on councils by the Conservative government,
it is likely that most councils will be increasing council tax by the
maximum of 3.99%. This is yet another example of contradictory Conservative
government policy as from 2011 to 2014 councils were virtually forced to
freeze council tax and now they are being virtually forced to increase
council tax by 3.99%."

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