Worthing council savings: Conservative group calls for more transparency
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At a full council meeting on Tuesday, October 17, opposition leader Kevin Jenkins (Con, Goring) said the council’s ‘silence’ on details of which services and projects could be cut was ‘deafening’.
He said a forecast £1.8million overspend was the ‘elephant in the room’ and the full council had been promised an update by October, which had not been given.
Mr Jenkins said the council’s cabinet had offered ‘lots of words so far’, adding: “We’ve heard about what you’re doing but the public in Worthing have not heard one piece of detail from you tonight, where you’re saving money.
“What service is going to be protected? What isn’t going to be protected? There’s been no detail from you at all.”
Cabinet member for resources John Turley (Lab, Gaisford) said savings were being found through delaying and preventing spending, adding the council was looking at reducing expenditure and not increasing income to find savings by next year.
He said: “Officers have been in the weeds on this, the heads-up I have had is that a lot has been found. £1.8 million is a large deficit – it’s likely that we are going to have to go around again after this first round of savings that we’ve found, that we will have to go around again to find more.
“We have to reduce the deficit by a significant amount if we are to remain a viable council.”
Mr Jenkins asked if the council was going to protect discretionary services – non-compulsory services the council provides like the discretionary housing payments to meet gaps in housing benefits – adding the public was being ‘left in the dark’.
Mr Turley said the council lacked details it could provide about the nature of savings made so far, but savings were being made.
Previously, Emma Taylor-Beal (Lab, Heene) said the council was looking at £5million in revenue savings in the last six to eight months with £3million in the pipeline, but that an exact number had yet to be fully verified by council officers.