BCP Council was “on the brink” of bankruptcy but a senior councillor is “increasingly optimistic” its finances will be fixed. 

It has been no secret the council’s finances have been in a mess for some years following years of spending on the reserves. 

This financial year, the council is trying to fill a £44m funding gap. 

The authority currently spends £315.3m delivering public services, however, it estimates it received £100m per year less in government funding than it would have, had it existed in 2010. 

Cllr Mike Cox, portfolio holder for finance, has said progress is being made to fix the authority's money problems. 

Bournemouth Echo: Mike Cox, portfolio holder for the council's financesMike Cox, portfolio holder for the council's finances (Image: BCP Council)

He said: “There’s no doubt that we were definitely on the brink, but I do honestly believe that we have pulled back from the brink and that we are making progress.  

“I don’t want to say confident, but increasingly optimistic that we’ll get through this and move on.” 

He added: “In the current year, and last year’s budget, was savings of £34m, £9m which was completely unidentified.

“So we’re having to grapple with that as well as doing next year’s budget as well.” 

Read more: Some BCP Council key services could be cut back next year 

BCP Council recently proposed a string of service cutbacks that would save £34m for the next financial year. 

The cuts, which include community safety officers, grass cutting and paddling pools, are services which do not come under statute. 

BCP’s leader Vikki Slade added: “The council has got itself into a place where it thinks it is the only person that can do something. 

“One of the things it can do is to get out of the way more and let other people who might be able to do things better, to get on and do it. 

Bournemouth Echo: Council leader Vikki SladeCouncil leader Vikki Slade (Image: Freelance)

“Whether that’s town councils, community groups or third parties, we shouldn’t assume that just because something has been done by the council that that’s the best way of doing it. 

“Times have changed and there are groups out there who want to give their time and energy to make it a much better place.” 

Meanwhile, chief executive Graham Farrant said the council had to make these cutbacks at some point. 

He said: “We’ve got a strong team here and this stability of our politics at the moment is helping us and the fact it’s cross-party brings a wider group of views which is positive. 

Bournemouth Echo: Chief executive Graham FarrantChief executive Graham Farrant (Image: Richard Crease)

“But local government finance nationally is in a really difficult position: if you only allow council tax to go up by five per cent less than inflation like last year, then you should expect there to be fewer services. 

“Inflation last year was running at 10 per cent and we can only put up council tax by five per cent, that creates a five per cent gap. 

“We were clear in our budget report last year and the year before that the council was living beyond its means and because it was using reserves to fill the gap between what we were spending and what we were getting in.”