My budget’s not fair

Coun Simon Blackburn
Coun Simon Blackburn
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BLACKPOOL’s town hall leader has admitted his latest budget was “not fair” after cutbacks of more than £10m were passed.

The council’s budget went through on a majority vote and around 75 jobs will be lost due to the move.

The plan includes £10.6m worth of cuts – with almost £6m coming from adult social services – but council tax will be frozen and council leader Coun Simon Blackburn has pledged to minimise compulsory redundancies.

And he said this year’s budget delivered on the promises his party made before they were elected in May.

He told the meeting of councillors: “I present to the council a budget which is not fair, not equitable, and a budget which does not move Blackpool as far forward as any of my colleagues or myself would like to see.

“What it does do is the best we can with what we’ve got.

“We promised to slash the cost of councillors and democracy – that we’ve done to the tune of £0.5m.

“We promised to cut the cost of senior management and directors and we’ve done it to the tune of £2.5m.

“We promised to minimise job losses and we have – of the 75 posts extinguished by this budget more than half are already empty and most of the remaining will be found through voluntary rather than compulsory redundancy.”

Other savings have come through staff taking an enforced four days unpaid leave a year, while £1.6m will be saved in regeneration and tourism and £1.167m in leisure services.

The council expect to have to cut a further £9m to £11m next year and £7m to £10m the year after, but Coun Blackburn stressed this would be the last “reactive” budget.

He added: “We know we face challenging circumstances.

“Work has already begun on a comprehensive strategy to deal with our finances for the next three years. Our staff, service managers and partners need to have an understanding of what the council’s plans are for the next three years.”

But opposition councillor Paul Galley said the budget was “stagnant” while Coun Lily Henderson, who gave the opposition party’s official reply, said: “In the past few months Labour has been able to use the results of our hard work to see Blackpool returning to a town we can all be proud of.

“I think we can be very proud of what we did achieve – we gave you a very good start.”

Last year’s budget saw protests outside the town hall after cuts of £27m and 750 job losses were announced – including 350 compulsory redundancies.