B&NES under fire over £1.7 million ‘black hole’ in budget plans

Liberal Democrat-run B&NES Council is facing accusations of acting irresponsibly with the Council’s finances after it was revealed that the authority is facing a £1.7 million black-hole in its budget plans.

In the Council’s budget papers, released this week, it was revealed that the Council’s ruling Lib Dems plan to take £1.7 million from reserves in order to paper-over a recurring black hole in the authority’s budget plans.

Opposition Conservatives have said this is akin to ‘dipping into your savings to cover your mortgage repayments’ and have blasted the Liberal Democrats for their failure to keep a tighter grip on the Council’s finances.

Conservatives have said that, whilst it is appropriate to use reserves for one-off expenditure, dipping into savings in order to pay for on-going expenditure is unsustainable and will result in further budget cuts in future years.

News of the £1.7 million hole in the Council’s budget comes just days after it was revealed that £41 million worth of projects have been delayed by the Council until next year, leading to Conservatives accusing the Lib Dems of having ‘lost control’ over the Council’s budget.

Councillor Charles Gerrish, Conservative Shadow Spokesman for Resources, said:

“This £1.7 million black-hole in the Council’s budget will have to be plugged by whoever is running the Council after May, and shows that the Lib Dems have lost control over the Council’s finances.

“Using one-off reserves to plug an on-going hole in the budget is like dipping into your savings to cover your rent or mortgage repayments. It is unsustainable and only stores up more trouble further down the road, and is not the way the Council ought to manage its finances.

“Whoever is running the Council after May will now immediately face an additional £1.7 million headache created because the Lib Dems are unable or unwilling to make the necessary savings and efficiencies.”