Fred Brown on ECDC Cuts

17:23 Tuesday 11th January 2011 Drivetime BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY BURROWS: Let’s talk about cuts at another of our local authorities, This time East Cambridgeshire District Council will this month be outlining how it’s going to save £2.6 millio. It’s plans for cuts include £300,000 of staff savings, a freeze on recruitment, and reductions in support for voluntary groups. Let’s speak to the Leader of the District Council Conservative Councillor Fred Brown. Evening to you councillor.

FRED BROWN: Good evening.
ANDY BURROWS: These are big cuts, seemingly, on the surface of it all. Not easy to find £2.6 million worth of savings. I suppose first of all will any staff have to go?
FRED BROWN: We shall be looking obviously at the staffing as a large part of the budget proposals, as you mentioned earlier, over £300,000, which is part of this package.
ANDY BURROWS And .. so .. that’s an awful lot of money. Will people see any difference though to the service that you provide already?
FRED BROWN: Well I would be wrong if I said they wouldn’t. The difficulty is with all of these things when you start transferring one budget from the District Council back to County, for instance concessionary fares, you also do away with Planning Delivery Grant which was a large part of our budget. We’ve had the New Homes Bonus come in which helps slightly, but not significant amounts at this stage. It is going to be difficult. It’s very very challenging. There isn’t another way to put it.
ANDY BURROWSAs far as your cuts are concerned, support for voluntary services and community projects are likely to be cut. Again, is this the argument that the most vulnerable will have to take the brunt?
FRED BROWN: Well the difficulty is we can only give out money that we’re given to give to sort of pass on. We act as the honest broker in all of these things. If my budget is being cut in the first year by 17.8%, the following year by 11%, I think everybody realises that that money has got to come from somewhere, and we cannot, we cannot, I can’t do a Houdini and sort of magic some money from somewhere. If we’re given a cut, then all I’m suggesting is we pass that cut on to the voluntary organisations that we’ve previously supported.
ANDY BURROWSYou’re a Conservative. We have a Conservative Prime Minister. Are you disappointed at Mr Cameron?
FRED BROWN: No I’m disappointed with the lot he’s got left to deal. Unfortunately we are in a situation where the country’s in a mess, the finances are in a mess, we’ve been living on borrowed time. The simple fact of the matter is it’s not for me to second guess what the Prime Minister’s had to do, or what the Coalition had to do. It is a shared responsibility at the top. We’re being asked to play our part. I’m doing the very best I can with a very limited amount of money. I think what we’ve achieved has been unprecedented over the last couple of years. But, you know, we are where we are.
ANDY BURROWSTHank you very much, Councillor Fred Brown. He’s the Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, which has today announced it’s going to make savings of £2.6 million including £300,000 of staff savings. There’ll also be a freeze on recruitment and reductions in support for voluntary groups.