OPPOSITION councillors will put forward a “budget reset paper” next week, following concerns about a lack of involvement in efforts to close BCP Council's multi-million funding gap.

A budget monitoring report outlining work to address the £30 million shortfall caused by the coronavirus response was “noted” by BCP Council’s cabinet last week.

But members of the Conservative group have asked for greater engagement with councillors in financial planning and will present their own proposals at Tuesday’s full council meeting.

The council is forecasting that the pandemic will leave it facing a funding gap of just over £30 million this year.

Amongst measures drawn-up to deal with this is the deferral of "member priorities" included in this year's budget, including increased spending on the council's carbon reduction work.

Conservative councillors said this was an "impressive exercise of accounting" by council officers but hit out at the lack of involvement of politicians.

Cabinet member for finance, councillor David Brown, said this had been done because of the "dynamic" financial situation facing local authorities across the country.

But at Tuesday’s full council meeting, Conservative group leader, councillor Drew Mellor will put forward a motion asking for its “budget reset paper” to be considered by the cabinet.

While full details of the group’s proposals have yet to be published, a five-page presentation outlining its main themes says the council should be “more ambitious”.

“We now enjoy cross party support for at least £45m per year of recurring savings,” it says. “For the first time this allows BCP [Council] to genuinely lay claim to having a sustainable budget option.

“To that end, our entire financial context has changed. The next full term of the council will enjoy at least a £180 million benefit driven from transformation.

“Therefore, even with many pressures there is not a scenario where BCP Council shouldn’t be looking more towards priorities than cuts.

“By taking a different approach to funding the transformation programme including some short-term Public Works Loan Board borrowing and utilising cash held for later expenditure then we can invest in our communities now whilst still setting a positive financial plan.”

Cllr Mellor said the council needs to put particular focus on “communities” and the economy and said the ruling administration had “neglected” these areas.

He said any borrowing would be related to the ongoing local government reorganisation work and this would help create further long-term savings.