New council in budget shock

CENTRAL Beds Council (CBC) could be heading for a budget crisis of almost �8m in the red. And in the wake of the bad news the leader of the council warned fellow councillors they must work hard or they can quit. CBC came into being on April 1 as the new u

CENTRAL Beds Council (CBC) could be heading for a budget crisis of almost �8m in the red.

And in the wake of the bad news the leader of the council warned fellow councillors they must work hard or they can quit.

CBC came into being on April 1 as the new unitary council after the demise of South Beds Council (SBC) and Mid Beds District Council (MBDC). It has now revealed a potential overspend of between �5.9m and �7.9m in its quarterly budget monitoring report on its �500m budget.

CBC blame certain inherited services were either overspent or not fully funded in the operating budget drawn up in February and say some were constantly overspent in recent years.


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But CBC says it hopes to weather the financial storm without cutting services and the leader of the council Cllr Tricia Turner warned councillors they must earn their allowances and if they don't they can 'walk away from the council'.

When CBC was formed the number of former SBC and MBDC councillors was reduced from 132 to 66 and allowances for former Mid Beds councillors who were re-elected rose from �6,450 to �11,220.

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"This is a very challenging position but one which we have been alerted to early in our financial year," said Cllr Turner.

"This gives us the opportunity to take necessary actions to bring future spending into line with our budget plans. This money is being spent on real services, care for the elderly, for children and on public transport. We will have to ensure our books balance over the next 12 months."

Cllr Turner added: "Councillors will be asked to put in long hours and focus hard on their task of making crucial decisions.

"If they think they can only attend the odd meetings, they are in for a rude awakening. From my point of view they can come prepared to work, or walk away from the council."

Cllr Nigel Aldis, a member of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said: "This is a muddle that should never have occurred. The new authority should have known about these overspends. I fear we might have to make cuts in services."

Comet reader Dr Larry Stoter of Astwick Road, Stotfold, said: "Could I suggest that the Conservative majority leader, Cllr Tricia Turner, first looks closer to home, before cutting services to electors and tax payers?

"This is the council which thinks its chief executive is worth �185,000 per year - twice the Prime Minister's salary.

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