‘Second Mini Restructuring’ Agreed To Help Town Hall Save Money
That’s how much Scilly’s Council needs to reduce its 2016/17 budget in order to balance the books and avoid having to take more money from their dwindling reserves.
Councillors approved the savings plan at their recent Full Council meeting.
Measures to hit the target will include lopping £120,000 off the salary budget by reducing the number of senior managers.
That comes only a year after the completion of a controversial Town Hall reshaping by Chief Executive Theo Leijser.
Cllr Fran Grottick referred to the plan as “a second mini restructuring.”
There’ll also be savings of £25,000 by outsourcing some finance and IT functions and £20,000 through collaborating with Cornwall on Fire and Rescue services.
Another £50,000 will be saved in Children’s Services through a review of the activity programme.
The Council’s One Stop Shop could be moved to the library, saving a further £25,000 and £50,000 could come from tendering out the ‘Active Scilly’ service, which covers the sports hall, gym and swimming pool.
St Martin’s councillor, Colin Daly agreed with that.
Colin said the off-island community halls don’t receive Council funding and he didn’t see why the sports hall on St Mary’s should.
It should be handed over to a community committee to run with volunteering and fundraising, he proposed.
But Cllr Grottick cautioned about making decisions like that at the meeting. She said they were “talking about people’s jobs.”
That view was echoed by Council Chairman Amanda Martin. She said they had to realise, “it’s individuals and their livelihoods.”
It’s unfortunate they were having to reduce services, she said, but it was also a question of the economic survival of the authority.
Councillors were told that the financial situation facing the authority was serious, but Cllr Ted Moulson was worried that the savings wouldn’t be achievable within the next financial year.
Ted asked if they didn’t manage to make them, would the government, “turn round and tell us you’re inept at what you’re doing and pull the rug even further from under our feet.”
He pressed Mr Leijser several times to state whether the savings were realistic, but didn’t get a definite answer.
“You’ve obviously got concerns about whether this is 100% deliverable because you will not answer yes or no to the question I’m asking” said Ted.
But some councillors felt the savings didn’t go far enough and complained that areas they’d raised in earlier workshops hadn’t been included.
Cllr Gaz O’Neill said there were, “huge areas of concern that are not even mentioned in this action plan” although no councillor said exactly what these were.
“Cutting front line services while not addressing some significant elephants in the town hall, as it where, would be entirely inappropriate,” added Gaz.
He wanted all “the unmentioned areas” that councillors have raised to be addressed “at the soonest opportunity.”
Cllr James Francis agreed.
He wanted to “look carefully at the bureaucracy and clerical side.”
“We know in our own heart and through feedback from members of the community that that is the side they want to see addressed,” said James.
Councillors agreed the savings plan although individual proposal will still need to be approved at the relevant committees.
Council Tax bills are also set to rise by 3.99% from April.
That’s made up of a 1.99% increase in actual Council Tax, the highest that can be imposed without a local referendum, together with a new 2% levy introduced by the government to help councils pay for social care.