Council approves �2.6 million savings despite concerns

SAVINGS totalling a whopping �2.6 million were formally approved by councillors at a tempestuous meeting of the full council on Tuesday night.

SAVINGS totalling a whopping �2.6 million were formally approved by councillors at a tempestuous meeting of the full council on Tuesday night.

Emotions ran high among councillors as they argued for and against cuts in jobs and community grants at the meeting, which lasted more than four hours.

The authority’s budget for 2011/12 was finally approved by 24 votes to 11 with one councillor voting to abstain.

According to the council, there will be eight redundancies as a result of the cuts, with a re-organisation of the committee structure, freezing of recruitment and cuts in member allowances also expected to deliver savings.

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As expected, grant cuts of �25,490 for Dial-a-Ride, �6,833 from Ely Citizen’s Advice Bureaux and �15,000 from Care and Repair were also approved though the cut to Care and Repair’s funding will be split over two years.

Council leader Fred Brown, said: “We as a council have had to try to come to terms with a cut of almost 18 per cent cut in our Revenue Support Grant this year and we have had to look very carefully at every aspect of our budget.”

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Liberal Democrat councillor Jeremy Friend-Smith, said: “All of the areas that we are talking about refer to the less fortunate residents of our community and I don’t think we should be cutting I think we should be protecting those who need to be protected.”

The level of council tax will be frozen for the next year after the council opted not to increase its rate.

The council’s plans to introduce civil parking enforcement, which could eventually lead to car park charging in Ely, were also given the go-ahead by an overwhelming majority of councillors; despite concerns raised by traders about the impact any charging system could have on visitors to the city.

The introduction of a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) in the Cathedral Green, St Mary’s Green and Cherry Hill was also approved, which will allow police more powers to punish nuisance drinkers in the city. The order will take effect from March 1.

The council also moved to close legal loopholes surrounding the licensing of ‘sex establishments’ in the district by approving the adoption of new legislation. The new rules will allow council officers and councillors greater control over the set up of ‘sex establishments’ which include lap dancing clubs.

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