£30m could be cut from town budget

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TOWN hall bosses are predicting Blackpool could be forced to slash spending by up to another £30m over the next three years.

Estimates based on indicative figures from the Government, suggest the annual budget could be cut to £114m in 2015/16 compared to £144m for the current financial year.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn is now proposing to set a three-year budget next year for the first time, instead of the usual annual spending plans.

He says the move would help the council stabilise its finances.

He could not rule out further job losses and said it was too early to say which services would be worst hit.

Coun Blackburn added: “We cannot continue to manage cuts on a year-by-year basis.

“Even if we only have indicative figures for future years, we can be fairly confident of the direction of travel.

“Managers have to be able to construct business plans which are more forward thinking, and be able to scan the policy horizon, not be reactive to every change or cut as it arrives.”

The leader warned there would be further job losses.

He said: “How many is still unclear. We have managed to make this year’s cuts with only a handful of compulsory redundancies, but I cannot promise this will always be the case, but it will always be our aim.

“Setting a three-year budget helps to achieve this, as we can build retirements and voluntary redundancies into our calculations, meaning more purposeful consultation with staff, unions and residents.”

Other cost-cutting measures have already included reducing councillors’ allowances and the number of senior managers at the council.

Coun Blackburn added: “We are now aggressively tackling issues such as procurement, unpaid council tax and IT provision, as well as rationalising our property portfolio.”

There are also fears changes to business rate collections will hit Blackpool hard, and Coun Blackburn is leading a new national lobbying group in a bid to ease the impact.