Calls for MPs to tell Chancellor to halt funding cuts to local councils

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Councillors are calling on MPs to put their weight behind calls to halt crippling government cuts in funding to local councils.

The call comes after Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson warned that frontline services will suffer if the council does not get a fair deal.

Bedford and Kempston Labour group leader Sue Oliver said: “We’ve already had five years of reduced funding and have worked hard to protect our frontline services by restructuring and making savings wherever possible.

“Now the government grant to the borough council is to be cut even further and more steeply than ever before, from £28.3 million this year to £6 million by 2019/20. “It’s just not possible to take on the extra responsibilities being handed to local authorities, ensure we protect services for vulnerable adults and children, and continue to provide a full range of other local services such as libraries and bin collections with such a lack of funding.

“Even if we reluctantly agree to an increase in council tax, it can in no way make up for the shortfall. The Labour Group of borough councillors has written to our local MPs to ask them to stand up for their residents and tell their Conservative Party leaders these cuts are wrong.”

Letters have been sent to MPs Richard Fuller, Alistair Burt and Nadine Dorries.

The Local Government Association has said that services are being put at risk, not only by unprecedented government cuts but also spiralling cost pressures imposed on councils.

Last week, Mr Hodgson confirmed that the national crisis in funding is hitting Bedford Borough as hard as other areas.

He said efficiency savings have already been made and further cuts will put an ‘unbearable strain’ on services.

Deputy group Labour leader Carl Meader said: “Legally the council has to agree a budget, but to do so under these circumstances means councillors will be forced to make decisions about jobs and services that don’t deserve to be cut and will be missed.

“We’ve never been more outraged by the demands being placed upon local councils by this Tory government. They are cutting funding far too quickly and by far too much. It’s time for our elected representatives in Parliament to stand up for all of us and tell the Chancellor that enough is enough.”