Council concern over funding for rural services

Joseph Bulmer

Bus services and libraries could be affected central government grant cuts, warns report.

NORTH Devon Council says it is concerned by the findings of a report, which shows local government budget cuts will hit rural communities hard, leaving many residents disadvantaged.

The report published by the Rural Services Network warns rural bus services, libraries, park, cultural and leisure services are likely to be affected by a 12 per cent cut in the central government grant to local authorities in mainly rural areas.

Council members will brief local MP Nick Harvey on the issue, with the hope of minimising the impact of cuts in the district.

Non-Executive Lead for Rural Services, Councillor David Worden, said he was “very concerned” by the findings of the report.

He said: “Local authorities already face the challenge of having to deliver more with less, with funding cuts more keenly felt in rural areas.

“It is simply not fair that people in rural parts of North Devon have to pay more council tax and get less for their money than those living in urban areas, because of an inequality in government funding.”

Cllr Roger Begy, chairman of the Rural Services Network, which represents rural councils and other public service providers across England, said: “The Rural Services Network has campaigned long and hard to ask the government to reassess the way in which the local government grant is distributed, which currently favours urban local authorities to the tune of �487 per head, compared to �324 per head in rural areas.”