Last Minute Lifeline For Community Groups Facing Council Spending Axe

PUBLISHED: 09:17 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:11 04 May 2010

Staff at Adec hoping for a last-minute reprieve

Staff at Adec hoping for a last-minute reprieve

TWO major community groups in East Cambridgeshire have been handed a last-minute lifeline this week in the face of wide-ranging council spending cuts. Arts group ADeC and the award-winning Ely-in-Bloom group were both facing uncertain futures at the start

TWO major community groups in East Cambridgeshire have been handed a last-minute lifeline this week in the face of wide-ranging council spending cuts.

Arts group ADeC and the award-winning Ely-in-Bloom group were both facing uncertain futures at the start of this week after East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) announced proposals to slash thousands of pounds from their budgets.

ECDC is in the midst of trying to cover a £1.6million deficit in its own budget and has put forward proposals that could see thousands of pounds taken out of community groups along with dozens of potential job losses at the council.

Frantic meetings in the last few days however, have seen the council reverse its decision to halve Ely-in-Bloom's budget while ADeC has agreed to continue its 18-year relationship with ECDC despite the news that £50,000 is likely to be cut from its funding.

Director of ADeC, Jane Wilson, confirmed to the Ely Standard that a proposal put to ECDC had been 'favourably received' and that the organisation would now await further response from the council.

With a £50,000 hole in its budget though, the arts group is expected to announce cuts in its service, news that has angered supporters of the group,

Cllr Pauline Wilson said:

"We are very upset about these proposals, I think the council should have consulted with ADeC far more than they have done as a supposed partner agency.

"I don't think people appreciate just how much ADeC do in the community, it is more than just galleries, its drama, music, cinema and much more. If the budget is cut by as much as is being proposed it is inevitably going to affect the service, and we don't think it is a good idea."

Leader of the ECDC, Fred Brown, said that every area of the council had been carefully scrutinised to find the £1.6million needed to balance ECDC's budget and he called the cuts "painful but unfortunately necessary".

One of the main areas expected to be hit by the cuts include staffing levels at the district council while a significant number of jobs are expected to go. Remaining staff will see their pay frozen with the council expected to save around £750,000 as a result.

Residents in the district will also feel the pain as they face a projected 2.95 per cent Council Tax increase, amounting to around a £42 annual hike for Band D properties.

Others areas hit include grant schemes with £20,000 taken from the Community Facilities Grant pot, and £10,000 taken from the district's disability sports project.

Cllr Brown said: "This whole process has been very difficult. We would love to have been all things to all men but we have a duty as a council to deliver our essential core services.

"With the financial situation as it has been worldwide we have had to act now, delaying these choices and waiting for things to get better before we acted was not an option."

The savings proposals will go before councillors on the Community Services Committee today (Thursday) before they are voted on at a full council meeting in late February.

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