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£14m black hole in finances as West Berkshire Council consults on plans to save cash

Household waste centres will have reduced opening hours – to save West Berkshire Council some money.

There will also be fewer litter and dog waste bins and the grass won't be cut as much.

West Berkshire Council is tightening its belt after forecasting £14m black hole
West Berkshire Council is tightening its belt after forecasting £14m black hole

The council is tightening its belt, as it is forecasting a significant budget shortfall.

The council says it is looking at a £14m hole in the finances – blaming that on inflation and Government funding falling below inflation rates.

The Willows Edge Care Home is also likely to either close, or have another provider, saving the council £240k.

Community transport is also in the chopping zone, with a proposed £10k being shaved off its contribution from the council.

Reducing the dog and litter bins is said to trim £90k off the budget and car parks charging being 'restructured' will save a further £450k.

The council has also stopped hiring and says the nips and tucks to frontline services will be subject to a decision by the executive committee. A public consultation on the changes will be launched next week (November 27).

Iain Cottingham, (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central), executive member for finance, said: “We are in a very similar situation to many other councils with funding failing to keep up with the cost of delivering our services.

"Some have already issued bankruptcy notices and, while this is not a situation we immediately face, we are working very hard to keep it that way. As part of this work we want to be open and honest with residents about the situation and the actions we are taking.

“Funding for next year is undoubtedly tough and we are doing all we can to protect frontline services and especially those relied upon by our most vulnerable residents.

"We are on track to find almost 90 per cent of the budget shortfall without affecting these frontline services. I hope residents will take the time to look through our spending proposals and have their say through the consultation.”

The council reported a quarter one forecast overspend of £6.3 million earlier this year.

So it is looking to bolster the coffers – by selling off up to £62m of investments it made a few years back.

That move has met with strong opposition from Conservatives in West Berkshire Council who are demanding that this goes before a scrutiny committee.

The proposed cuts will be discussed at this week's executive committee which meets on Thursday (November 23).

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