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Council leader: police and fire services should make more cuts
9:21am Wednesday 20th February 2013 in News
BOURNEMOUTH Council Leader John Beesley has criticised police and fire chiefs for charging more for their services.
He claimed both could cut costs further to “mitigate the need for increased precepts” on council tax bills across Dorset.
Effectively residents will pay the same as they have done for the last three years because the reduction will be cancelled out by the proposed increases of eight per cent for fire and the agreed 1.95 per cent increase for the police share of the bill.
Cllr Beesley, pictured, said: “It is a disappointment that that has occurred because I believe there could be further efficiency savings which would have mitigated the need for increased precepts.”
When challenged by Cllr Roger West, who said he was “concerned” about the criticism, Cllr Beesley added: “There is always room for the exploration of more efficiencies. At the end of the day it is the public who have to pay.”
The price for a Band D property has been fixed at £1,258.
Cabinet members agreed with the budget proposals, which will release £23 million from reserves to avoid the need to cut frontline services.
An extra £6million has been allocated to children’s services and adult social care.
The new Local Welfare Assistance Fund, which will offer assistance to those in crisis, has been increased to £1million and councillors will be allocated £5,000 per ward for “small but necessary improvements” in local areas.
Cllr Dennis Gritt praised the budget but said: “It has come at a cost.” He said members of staff have been made redundant and sickness levels are high.
Cllr Barry Goldbart added: “This is an absolutely stunning budget. For a local authority to be able to put so much money into adult social care and children’s services is absolutely remarkable.”
Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter said: "The Fire Authority will meet this Thursday to set the budget for 2013/14 and, therein, the level of fire precept it collects with the council tax will be agreed.
“We are one of the lowest funded fire and rescue services in England and we will continue to make every saving possible while ensuring we fulfil our statutory responsibilities for peoples safety.
“We intend to make more information available regarding our financial position and savings after the fire authority meeting."