Council to spend three years attempting to plug £1.1million hole in budget

News Focus
News Focus

Crawley Borough Council has proposed to spend the next three years attempting to plug a £1.1million gap in its budget.

At a recent meeting of the Cabinet, members were asked to approve the council’s budget strategy for the years up to 2019/20, which included a three-year period up to 2017/18 of recouping the £1,097,000 needed to achieve a balanced budget.

Council leader Cllr Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said the strategy – which also included a council tax freeze and investment in the property market – “acknowledged the difficult circumstances in which the council finds itself”.

He added: “We find ourselves in a better financial position but that makes the system more and not less volatile.

“This is a long-term strategy that ensures the council provides high-quality services which residents demand but lay within our means and do so sustainably.”

Conservative leader Cllr Duncan Crow (Furnace Green) said he felt members were “setting the bar a little too low” when it came to the council’s financial position and urged them to close the £1.1million gap sooner.

He said: “I feel the gap for the budget can be closed this coming year and the administration ought to pursue the policy of balancing the budget from next year onwards.

“I feel this is achievable.”

Addressing the Cabinet, he added: “Everything you want to do flows from finance and if you can get the finance right you will be in a better position going forward.”

While acknowledging Cllr Crow’s advice, Cllr Lamb opted not to call for any changes to the tabled recommendations.

He said: “As a council we should be prudent and make sure we are prepared for bad scenarios as well as good scenarios. We’re no longer in an age when we can predict our budget year on year.”

The budget strategy did not make allowances for any income or expenditure which would arise from the town’s new neighbourhood, Forge Wood.

The first homes are scheduled to be ready by the end of the year.

The budget strategy report will go before a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (July 23) for approval.

The meeting will be held at the town hall from 7.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend.