Canterbury City Council leader John Gilbey has signed a letter to the coalition government calling on it to devolve greater powers to local authorities and urging fewer spending cuts. The Tory was one of 119 local authority leaders who signed the Local Government Association’s missive to Chancellor George Osborne as he prepared to publish his Autumn Statement yesterday (Wednesday). It reads:
“After a 40% reduction in funding during this parliament, our efficiency savings are coming to an end. Further reductions without radical reform will have a detrimental impact on people’s quality of life and will lead to vital services being scaled back or lost altogether.”
The signatories also believe that greater control over tax-raising and decision-making is vital to ensure money is better spent on a local level. They say:
“It is vital that the autumn statement sets out a new settlement for England, which puts powers beyond Westminster, and shares out tax and spending across the UK on a fair basis. The people we represent, who look north of the border with envy at the greater control Scots are to get over their everyday lives, will expect nothing less.”
Cllr Gilbey told the Gazette that he signed the letter because he supported greater devolution and feared the impact that more spending cuts would have.
“There’s no question about it – if they keep cuffing money to local authorities, services will suffer,” he said. “They will be cut. We are talking about rubbish collections, we are talking about services for the old, we are taking about maintaining roads.”
Last month, the city council announced it would raise its council tax precept by 1.99%, just below that which would prompt a referendum. The increase equates to an extra £3.70 per year for band D residents. The authority will need to find £51 million in savings up to spring of 2019. Cllr Gilbey added:
“There will be some very tough decisions required in the next few years, and people should brace themselves for cuts in services and increases in charges.”
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Herne Bay Gazette, December 4th 2014