Letter: Public services are a priority when setting Budget

December 07 2012

Keeping council tax as low as possible, protecting essential frontline public services as much as we can, and investing in economic growth – these are the three priorities which are guiding the preparation of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s budget for the next three years.

Letter: Public services are a priority when setting Budget

Keeping council tax as low as possible, protecting essential frontline public services as much as we can, and investing in economic growth – these are the three priorities which are guiding the preparation of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s budget for the next three years.

This preparation is made exceptionally tough by the Government’s response to the global economic crisis. With this approach certain to continue, it leaves town halls with difficult decisions. Most councils have made swingeing cuts to frontline services. But our council has made back office efficiencies of more than £25 million over recent years, delivered balanced budgets, and built up a strong level of financial reserves meaning we can avoid cuts of a similar scale in this budget round.

For example, there will be no changes to weekly bin collections – subject to confirmation from the Government of financial support for this – and no closures for our library branches, recycling centres, children’s centres, or leisure centres.  Furthermore, street cleaning budgets are protected, most car park charges are frozen for a third consecutive year, and investment in the improvement of road surfaces will continue.

Services that local people believe are the most important are protected, including those for vulnerable adults and young people. We have identified further back office efficiencies to ensure that frontline service reductions are limited over the next three years to around 1.3 per cent of our total budget.  

The council is also able to make investments in the future to help create new jobs and homes for local people. We are keeping our commitments to the improvement of Bath’s transport system, the regeneration of Keynsham and Radstock town centres, and provision of affordable housing in locations like Bath Riverside. These projects will need to be provided with the support of our local and national partners – both public and private, local businesses and, above all, local people.

We want people to have their say about the budget and its priorities. You can do so today by contacting us at www.bathnes.gov.uk/budgetview or writing to Resources Team, 3rd Floor, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW.

Councillor Paul Crossley

Leader, Bath & North East Somerset Council