9:54am Thursday 7th February 2013
BOLTON’S ruling cabinet will meet on Monday to choose between eight financial options for the town, whilst also deciding which services will be affected by the cuts.
The cabinet has to choose between putting up council tax, cutting services, including jobs, and spending cash reserves.
Whichever financial choice these leading councillors make there will still be cuts to services — but the higher council tax is raised and the more reserves spent, then the fewer cuts will be needed.
The council has reserves, which is currently used for capital expenditure projects.
Council leader, Cllr Cliff Morris, who will present a formal recommendation to the cabinet on Monday, has said it will be a “big challenge” and a “difficult decision”.
It comes a month after Bolton Council’s executive approved a £34.6 million cuts programme — including the loss of 486 posts and service cuts.
Cllr Roger Hayes, Bolton Liberal Democrat leader, echoed Cllr Morris’s comments and said the council were being faced with an “extremely difficult decision”.
But Cllr Hayes also criticised the council’s current leadership for its “short-sighted planning” and said planning a council tax rise was “significant” in a year where there will not be a local election.
He also blamed the Government, and said local authorities had been “unfairly targeted” and had taken the “brunt” of the cuts. Cllr Hayes added: “Most people have had to cut budgets and any tax increase is going to make things very difficult for them.
“The council has to think very hard about whether they should make a council tax increase.I think it is an extremely difficult decision. It is very difficult to dispense with people’s services and that doesn’t help the town’s economy.
“There have been areas where we could make reductions without massive problems to services, but we have been doing that year on year on year.
“This goes back to the 1990s and we have been making massive cuts. Bolton has been living hand to mouth for a long time.” Bolton’s Conservative group has vowed to oppose a rise in council tax and said the local authority should accept the offer of £2 million over two years from the Government for freezing council tax.
Cllr David Greenhalgh, leader of the Conservative group, said: “Our position is very clear on council tax, our group would vote against any rise.
“We obviously believe they should take the offer that is on the table from the Government. We realise it doesn’t meet costs totally but we feel that should be met and then topped up with reserves.
“Every other household bill is going up at the moment and any help we can give to hard-working people is essential. Our aim will be always to protect the front line services. That is key, we have to protect the vulnerable.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group