'Tough times ahead' for Thurrock

Thurrock council's new leader is warning they're going to have to make some pretty unpleasant decisions as they're facing a big budget shortfall.

John Kent says the authority over-spent last year. H e says they'll try and limit the impact of the cuts as councillors meet to discuss where they can make savings.

Earlier this week, Leader, Councillor John Kent presented a paper discussing the council’s current and projected financial position and admitted “it doesn’t make good reading”.

He said: “I know officers and councillors worked very hard last year to reduce costs and to make efficiency savings, but we still overspent and by more than we have in reserve now.

“Obviously we quite literally cannot allow that to happen again this year, it’s not a cliché, it’s not an option, it is a fact.”

The report to Cabinet explained that the council ended 2009/10 with a general fund deficit of £3.939 million which was covered from reserves. That left £2.118 million in the reserve balances.

Councillor Kent said: “The discussions I have had with senior officers since taking over as Leader three weeks ago have made it clear that this council has no options.

“We have to work together, as a team, members from all political persuasions, officers, staff, and the people of Thurrock, to make sure this does not happen ever again and that we reverse this overspending trend.

“We’re going to have to act like surgeons making cuts literally to save the patient.

“We are going to have to make some pretty unpalatable decisions, but I am determined to minimise the impact those decisions have on the most vulnerable members of our society ― the old, the infirm and the young.”

The report also highlighted that Government plans to reduce local authority funding by £1.165 billion (part of the £6 billion reduction in spending) this year, but details are not yet known.

Cllr Kent added: “This means that in addition to having to find millions in savings that we already know about, there will be more we will have to find.

“It’s going to be a difficult year and more ahead. The situation is such that we are going to have to bring a supplementary budget ― detailing the latest savings proposals ― to full council soon."