Council’s finance chief says his team deserve praise for balancing the books

FENLAND Council’s finance chief has invited councillors to give him and his team a pat on the back for balancing the books.

Rob Bridge, corporate director and chief finance officer, says that given the challenges faced by the council the financial forecasts now being discussed demonstrate “a considerable achievement.

“They also demonstrate the focus from officers through the council in delivering the required savings.”

Mr Bridge’s comments come in a report to the overview and scrutiny panel in which he outlines options facing Fenland.

What has not yet been settled for the coming year is whether Council Tax is raised by 2.5 per cent or whether they accept Government help.

“This is a one off grant and will not be continued unto future years,” says Mr Bridge. “If the council decides not to increase its council tax in 2012/13, this revenue will be lost from its base council tax income.

“This would have a cumulative effect of a loss of �607,000 of resources over the medium term period of 2013/14- 2015/16.”

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Mr Bridge says the council is also faced with a cumulative reduction of 29.6 per cent of Government grant and therefore “significant savings” of �1.179 million are still needed over the next two years although �1.082 million has been identified.

Further ahead nearly �2 million will need to be cut although with uncertainties of Government reviews “forecasts for these years should be treated with caution.”

Mr Bridge says income streams across the council are not as hoped and shipping levels, for example, are affecting Wisbech Port although the marina’s income is on target.

However there is the bonus of income from vessels engaged in wind farms exceeding targets.

Leisure fees income is also less than anticipated.