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Modernisation Programme 2012

Bedford Borough Council has announced a range of savings proposals as it tackles the challenge of an unprecedented funding gap of £36 million over four years. 


Like councils up and down the country Bedford Borough Council is facing significant financial pressures due to factors including a significant reduction in government funding and rising inflation.


Last year, with the help of local residents, Bedford Borough Council was able to save £16million by cutting ‘back office’ red tape and bureaucracy. This year the Council is again asking residents for their views as it seeks £36million of savings over the next four years, in the context of a total net budget of £129million.


Achieving these savings is vital as the Council is legally required to put together a balanced budget and is again striving to protect council taxpayers.  


Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “Bedford Borough Council, like all other local authorities, is facing tough decisions as we put together our budget plans for the next four years, with a vast funding gap of £36 million.


“That is why we are taking this strategic, four year view and are among the first local authorities in the country to publish our proposals. This is in order to give residents a real opportunity to have their say on where and how the savings are made. Earlier this summer we launched the first phase of our consultation and these latest proposals add to this with more ideas and savings for the years ahead.


“This is the early, open and genuine approach to dealing with change that we adopted last year. Again, we are prioritising front-line services and focusing savings on back office costs.  Of course, you cannot close a £36 million funding gap without making any savings in service areas, and that is why we want to work with residents to ensure that we make the right decisions for Bedford Borough.


““These are unprecedented, extremely tough times, and it is significant that all parties on the council are working together on this.”


Councillor Michael Headley, Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “We have looked firstly, secondly and thirdly at back office savings. We have identified significant savings that will have no or minimal impact on services. However, the funding gap is unprecedented and it is impossible to avoid savings in service areas. Our priority has been to maximise protection for vital services.


“Our proposals avoid making cuts other councils have already made in the last couple of years.  Residents will still have a subsidised rural bus network – despite some neighbouring councils cutting that altogether already. In fact we have extended the urban evening service until 11pm.


“None of our Children’s Centres are being put forward for closure. None of our libraries are being put forward for closure, and even our mobile library service has been protected.”


The proposals will be discussed at the Executive on the 14th September and subject to the Council call-in process, the consultation will begin Monday 26th September. You will be able to access the consultation through this link: www.bedford.gov.uk/budget2012


The agenda for next week’s Executive is available here:

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