�19m cuts headache facing Redbridge Council

THE borough is in a “very unpleasant place” after town hall finance officers worked out the council has been left with an almost �19million headache.

Headline government figures published last week failed to tell the full story of what Redbridge Council will have to cut in the next two years.

What appeared to be a �12million cut in the next two financial years is actually an �18.7million spending slash facing the borough..

Borough finance officers spent the aftermath of the announcement on spending by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles furiously working out what it meant for Redbridge.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting was held on Thursday to brief councillors on what is expected to be one of the toughest budgets ever drawn up.

In 2011/12, �11.7million will need to be cut, while �7million will be cut from the following year’s budget.

The figure for the 2013/14 financial year has not yet been disclosed by the government.

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Speaking to the Recorder, council leader Cllr Keith Prince expressed frustration at the way the borough’s budget has been worked out, pointing out Redbridge is paying money to other authorities.

He said: “We are subsidising the bigger losers. It is frustrating.”

He added: “I don’t want anyone to think we can take our foot off the pedal.

“Redbridge is still in a very unpleasant place.”

He said original estimates the council would need to find savings of �25million over three years were probably “not far off the mark”, but there are no clues as to what the figure for 2013/14 will be, as the government reshapes the way funding is calculated.

Council chiefs are now trying to find �11.7million of savings ahead of a full council meeting on January 20.

Deputy council leader and Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Ian Bond said: “We’re looking at efficiency savings and doing everything we can to protect frontline services, but it’s going to be tough.”