Arun puts freeze on new projects spending

A spending freeze on new projects has been imposed by Arun District Council.

The immediate impact of the decision could see almost a quarter of million pounds worth of projects scrapped.

They will only go ahead if the departments concerned can show the cost can be found from within their agreed budgets for next year.

The drastic move was agreed by councillors in private in response to Arun's worsening financial situation.

The council is only likely to finance its 25.178m spending by March 2010 by taking 1.93m from its dwindling reserves.

Announcing the freeze, council leader Cllr Gill Brown told Monday's meeting of the cabinet of senior councillors: "We can't be in this position again next year.

"Some very drastic decisions have got to be taken. We have decided as a cabinet that we are no longer going to have 220,000 of service bids.

The cabinet originally planned to back 220,000 out of 20 funding bids put forward costing 304,311. They ranged from installing a height barrier in the London Road car park (21,000) and starting a lifeguard service for Bognor (40,000).

She called on the departments affected by the scrapping of the bids to look again at their budgets.

If they could find the expenditure there, their requests for funds would be considered by all councillors when they set next year's share of the council tax on February 18.

Only spending made in the coming year in line with Arun's priorities will otherwise be considered. Those priorities are based around residents' calls for a safer, cleaner and wealthier district.

A three per cent rise in Arun District Council's share of council tax is being recommended from April.

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