Devon County Council opt to put £11million savings into reserves
DEVON County Council members were today urged to prepare themselves for a 'turbulent' future in terms of funding.
Members of the council's Cabinet were considering a report which showed they had spent £11million less than they had budgeted for by the end of 2011/12.
Some councillors wanted to use the money saved for other projects, but they were warned to be prudent.
Chief executive Phil Norrey told members that there was turbulence ahead in the way local government funding was organised, which could mean a reduction of up to 20 per cent in budgets over the next decade.
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He said the council needed to think carefully and prepare for the future. Reserves were needed because there was no stability in the provision for future years.
Cllr Stuart Barker (Ashburton and Buckfastleigh) said the savings had already allowed the council to invest in care homes without borrowing.
Cllr Gordon Hook (Newton Abbot South) was one of the members with suggestions for how the money saved could be spent.
He said there was a need for spending on grass cutting and weeding.
There were claims that the Tories were building a "war chest" ahead of elections, but these were refuted.
Chairman John Hart (Bickleigh and Wembury) said: "I hear all that has been said about war chests and the reserves that used to be held by this council.
"This time we are very open, and we show you exactly where we are."
Cllr Richard Westlake (Newton and Polsloe) said it was difficult to reconcile the savings with the cutting of services and the loss of jobs.
He said: "Sometimes we have to look people in the eye, people who have lost their jobs and seen services they used to have disappear.
"It's very difficult when you look and suddenly find you've got quite a chest there when there are people in Devon really suffering.
"We should be looking very carefully at those areas of real need and those who need support.
"I hope that the Cabinet will really think about how we are going to produce a plan for development for the future."
Councillors agreed to put the money saved into their reserves.