Uttlesford council scrimps and saves for 2009

PUBLISHED: 08:01 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:09 30 May 2010

A TOUGH financial year lies ahead for Uttlesford District Council (UDC) but there will be no risk to public services, said council boss. Chief Executive of UDC John Mitchell warned that a significant financial strain was being placed on the authority s bu

A TOUGH financial year lies ahead for Uttlesford District Council (UDC) but there will be no risk to public services, said council boss.

Chief Executive of UDC John Mitchell warned that a significant financial strain was being placed on the authority's budget for 2009/2010.

"We are facing a number of difficulties created by the credit crunch, but we are confident we are heading towards financial stability and that we will be able to balance the budget for next year," said Mr Mitchell.

The chief executive was speaking at a meeting of the South Uttlesford Community Forum held at Mountfitchet Mathematics and Computing College, Stansted, on Thursday.

Mr Mitchell said the council's finances are being stretched by an increase in the number of people asking for benefits and a waiting list for housing which is "climbing significantly".

Other factors were the loss of income from grants and fees, an increase in fuel and waste disposal costs, and a loss of interest on investments.

The council will hope to save money without cutting services by "looking at partnerships with other authorities and councils," said Mr Mitchell.

In regards to the £2.2 million which UDC had invested in a collapsed Icelandic bank, Mr Mitchell said: "Negotiations are still continuing to get the money back and there have been some productive meetings with [minister for communities and local government] John Healey. In the meantime there is no risk to services."

The council is currently preparing the budget for the next financial year and a new corporate plan for the next three years (2009 to 2012). People are being invited to give their views on how they think the council should be spending public money.

"From the responses we have received so far people believe that our top priorities should be fighting airport expansion, working with police to reduce crime and keeping the streets clean," said Mr Mitchell. "The issues that are not so important to people are helping the homeless, reviewing food waste collection and subsidising the arts."

The budget and corporate plan consultation ends on Friday (January 16). For further details visit www.uttlesford.gov.uk and click on 'get involved'.

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