Mayor warns of frontline cutbacks

Mayor Dave Hodgson.
Mayor Dave Hodgson.

Harsh service cuts will be unavoidable if Bedford Borough does not get a fair funding deal from central government.

That’s the warning from borough mayor Dave Hodgson who says the council has already been ‘unrelenting’ in its ongoing drive to find all possible efficiency savings.

Further cuts could cause massive pressures on services.

Further cuts could cause massive pressures on services.

He has spoken out after the Local Government Association said that services are being placed at risk not only by unprecedented government cuts but also spiralling cost pressures imposed on councils.

The association has calculated that councils face an additional £10 billion of cost pressures by 2020, with more than £6 billion of this comprising of government policies to be implemented over the period.

The other £3.6 billion is made up of ‘business as usual’ pressures to maintain services at their current level based on rising demand for council services and inflation.

Mr Hodgson confirmed that the national crisis in funding is hitting Bedford Borough as hard as other areas with a massive £25.6 million of annual savings projected to be required.

“Quite simply, if we don’t get a fair level of funding from government then service cuts will be unavoidable,” he said.

“We have been unrelenting in our ongoing drive to find all possible efficiency savings away from the front line, and have a record of focusing savings in Borough Hall, not out in the community. But these massive cost pressures, on top of the punishing cuts in funding, will put unbearable strain on services.‘

“With the spending review approaching this autumn, I endorse the LGA’s call for fairer funding to protect vital local services and the vulnerable people in our communities who depend on them.”

Bedford borough has already made £81 million in cumulative savings since 2010, which have been focused away from frontline services.

Of this total, £2.9 million was saved through a reduction in senior management and £1.4 million was slashed off the bill for office costs, including reducing 17 different council office buildings down to one.