THE credit crunch could cost North Devon Council as much as a million pounds in lost revenue, it has emerged. In a report to full council today (Wednesday) the Leader, Councillor Michael Harrison, will say the authority faces difficulties in setting the 2

THE credit crunch could cost North Devon Council as much as a million pounds in lost revenue, it has emerged.In a report to full council today (Wednesday) the Leader, Councillor Michael Harrison, will say the authority faces difficulties in setting the 2009/2010 budget, including a drop in income from sources such as car parking, planning fees and recycling.The council, along with the rest of the county, is in budgetary limbo while it waits on the Government decision on whether to turn Devon into one unitary authority, which is not now expected until March."In the worst case scenario and if events conspired together we could have a budget shortfall of towards one million due to loss of income," he told the Gazette."We can't put that on the council tax. You just can't reclaim that sort of money and we would have to find ways of economising to remove the deficit."It is understood the council is aiming at keeping council tax increases down to less than four per cent. The Leader of Torridge District Council, Councillor James Morrish believes TDC should aim for no increase at all. In his report Mr Harrison will say he is dismayed by the speed of the economic downturn:"I believe this depression will be long and deep and take several years for the country's economy to recover from this recession," he says."One does not need a crystal ball to realise that there will have to be some cuts in some of the services and support that we offer to the community."He said he had asked for the council to be ready to assist local families hardest hit by the recession and make sure any services which might help will be as widely publicised as possible.The looming unitary decision will have a big impact whichever way it goes and Mr Harrison believes North Devon and Torridge district councils will have to share some services."If the decision is for the status quo we can't continue working alone. We are not going to get the money from Government, so we are going to have to share our costs," he told the Gazette."I don't think we are going to have a choice. The obvious one is waste and recycling, but there are a lot of other areas."Cllr Morrish said it was a decision for the 36 council members but if council boundaries did stay as they were, he hoped Torridge could return to its previous position of actively seeking to share services with North Devon."We already share ICT and human resources services with Mid Devon and I would welcome the opportunity to work very closely with North Devon Council," he said."The most important people are our residents and businesses and if we can provide the same quality of service at the same or a lesser price to the tax payer then that's what we would do.