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Wiltshire Council aims to cut £120m over four years
WILTSHIRE Council is set to make £120m in budget cuts over the next four years and is looking at reducing staff numbers and devolving services to communities and parish and town councils.
The council’s draft business plan was discussed at an extraordinary meeting held in Trowbridge on Tuesday as the Conservative-run authority looks to save £42.3m in the next financial year, £7.6m of which will be through staffing cuts.
Leader Jane Scott said: We have to fundamentally rethink the services we provide and how we can do things differently.
We will need to continue to remove waste and unnecessary bureaucracy and review service areas to make sure we are providing the services our residents and communities want and need.
“The way forward is services that are run for the community, in the community, by the community.”
Opposition councillors raised concerns about the level which the plan envisaged communities taking responsibility for services.
Liberal Democrat leader Jon Hubbard said: “I’m very pleased to see the commitment to communities but I am slightly concerned at the extent to which at times the document hints at passing the entire buck to the community, rather than working in partnership with communities.
“I think there’s a great deal of services that we could run far better in partnership with communities, but some could not be run wholly by communities.”
In the face of the opposition an amendment was added to the plan saying that public services and resources should be devolved to area boards, parish and town councils only “when appropriate”.
The council says savings will also be made through improving its own efficiency.
Cllr Scott said: “Standing still and doing nothing is just not an option. We must continue to be innovative and to embrace new ways of doing things.”
Another amendment proposed by Liberal Democrat cllr Steve Oldrieve to set a target of reducing the council’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2020 and promote the installation of renewable energy to provide 250 megawatts of capacity in Wiltshire was defeated.
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