North Devon budget cuts will hurt

A range of tough budget cuts by North Devon Council to plug a �1.3 million hole in its finances will hit the North Devon Festival, tourism and the local economy. In what council Leader Des Brailey described as an agonising process, councillors felt t

A range of tough budget cuts by North Devon Council to plug a �1.3 million hole in its finances will hit the North Devon Festival, tourism and the local economy.

In what council Leader Des Brailey described as an "agonising" process, councillors felt they had no choice but to increase council tax by 2.5 per cent, cut the North Devon Theatres and North Devon + budgets by 10 and 15 per cent, cut �500 from individual community councillor grants and add 10p an hour to parking charges.

And Mr Brailey warned the range of cuts next year could prove even more severe, with even less money likely from the Government.

North Devon Theatres Trust chief executive Alan Giddings said it was too early to say precisely what the loss of �60,900 would mean to the theatres, but he warned many of the smaller community events could suffer.


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"The opportunity for change for this year is already extremely limited," he said. "This means the funding cuts will unfortunately fall on the support we give to many of our community projects, such as Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration, South Molton Olde English Fayre and St John's Fayre at Witheridge.

"This year we had also planned to host a touring theatre event with additional activities for families at the Yeo Valley Woodland, but this will not now be able to proceed."

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But Mr Brailey said: "The council Executive met on four separate occasions and we agonised over this because we did not want to cut money from people.

"We looked at other sectors, but during this climate we felt it would be very wrong to penalise either the CAB or the voluntary sector by reducing their grants."

Liberal Democrat leader Malcolm Prowse, warned the �56,100 cut to North Devon + and the extra parking charges would hit the local economy and town centre traders.

"It's putting a huge crimp on the traders in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and I think will damage the economy of North Devon," he said.

"Last year I claimed there was nearly a �2 million deficit and that has come to pass. It's a 'Mr Micawber' budget, hoping that something will turn up. I think they're hoping a unitary council will come along and take away all their worries, because there's still a deficit.

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