September 27th, 2016

Row over £150k ‘hole’ in the council’s budget

Row over £150k ‘hole’  in the council’s budget Row over £150k ‘hole’  in the council’s budget

A ROW has blown up over a £150,000 ‘hole’ in the council’s budget after councillors decided to re-examine options to outsource the borough’s leisure services.

Billed as ‘potential savings’ the money had nevertheless been built into the council’s budget for this year and next and is now having to be be covered from borough reserves.

Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Juliet Brunner (Matchborough) lashed out at an executive committee meeting at the council’s ‘mismanagement’ of the leisure report, which had come out in January.

“There is no cohesion in this administration and no strategy. You have sat on this appraisal since January knowing that you would not be able to make these savings,” she said.

Her deputy, Coun Brandon Clayton (Astwood Bank & Feckenham) added: “We asked at the time if this budget was sustainable and now it turns out it is not.”

However council leader Bill Hartnett (Church Hill) defended the decision as being in the best interests for the people of Redditch.

“The whole council agreed to look at the leisure options – which could have saved £150,000 – and it was there as a risk, and now we have found that the report has not delivered what we thought it would and we have made good that money from elsewhere,” he said.

Coun Greg Chance (Central), said: “This is not a dash for cash to make savings, it’s about improving the leisure services and improving the health and well-being of the people of Redditch.”

The options under consideration were to continue with the council running lesiure services, outsourcing leisure provision to an external operator or existing leisure trust, or creating a new leisure trust.

Instead, councillors decided more work neeeded to be done on the issue before proceeding, the budget shortfall being covered by council savings.