Council chiefs meet MPs over funding fears

By Rob George Thursday 10 January 2013 Updated: 10/01 14:53

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Buy photos » Wychavon officials meet county MP’s Karen Lumley, Peter Luff and Harriet Baldwin. (s)

WYCHAVON council chiefs met with three of the district's MPs to express their fears of a funding crisis for rural councils following cuts in government grants.

Council bosses met Pershore MP Harriett Baldwin, Evesham's Peter Luff MP and Karen Lumley, who is MP for the Lenches, to make them aware of the looming cutbacks.

The MPs were told of the potential impact to Wychavon's services after it was handed a funding cut of more than £1million over the next two financial years.

While the council said it had been preparing for its share of government funding to be cut, it had still been shocked at the deep cuts to smaller councils.

Vic Allison, deputy managing director, said the council would lose £394,000 from its funding next year but a further £742,000 in 2014/15.

"We have already met and exceeded the challenges of reducing budgets over the past two years through providing services more efficiently and reducing costs wherever we can," he said.

"But it will become ever more challenging in the years to come and we’re concerned that this latest settlement appears to have unfairly target rural areas.”

"Metropolitan and London Boroughs are set to lose between 1.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent of their government funding in 2013/14 whilst locally we’re looking at 7.4 per cent and 15 per cent the following financial year.

"We have obviously prepared for a worst case scenario and will do our best to limit the impact on core services, however we feel this is an injustice for rural areas that are too often overlooked and are calling on local MPs to show their support.”

Mr Luff said: "In the summer the Government said that rural areas deserved a better settlement, but now, bizarrely, it’s decided to cut their funding most.

"This is doubly unfair for Wychavon, one of the best run councils in the country," he added.

Mrs Baldwin acknowledged Wychavon had made significant efficiency savings but said the council could face tough choices in the years ahead.

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