North Devon Council to cut spending?

REDUCTIONS of around �4 million in this year s capital spending are being recommended to North Devon District Council today (Wednesday) and a further �5 million could be taken from next year s programme. In a review of its five-year capital spending the c

REDUCTIONS of around �4 million in this year's capital spending are being recommended to North Devon District Council today (Wednesday) and a further �5 million could be taken from next year's programme.

In a review of its five-year capital spending the council's Executive wants funding for a number of projects be delayed for a year and some be removed.

This would reduce capital spending for the current year from more than �13 million to just over �9 million - half of which will fund the relocation of the council's direct labour unit to new premises at Brynsworthy, Roundswell.

It is also being recommended that �5 million for the refurbishment of the North Devon Leisure Centre be put back from 2010/11 to 2011/12, reducing that year's capital spending to �5.7 million.


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Cllr Mike Harrison, Lead Member for Resources, described the proposals as "re-alignment of capital expenditure with capital receipts."

There was a need to equalise spending with falling income, with some expected income from the sale of assets not coming through and less money anticipated from Government, he said.

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But many of the projects recommended to be put back were those which were not ready to go ahead in this financial year, said Mr Harrison.

Chief accountant Steve Hearse said this was a re-scheduling to proceed with those projects which were most likely to be achieved in the timescale.

The overall capital programme for the five year period was recommended to increase and not be cut. This reflected the inclusion of South Molton Cattle Market Relocation (�1m), IT investment (�100,000) and disabled facilities grants (�300,000).

The main items removed were projects no longer required at present, he said.

But already there have been complaints from Instow and South Molton about proposals to delay funding totalling �130,000 for new public toilets schemes in these communities.

Instow Parish Council has complained bitterly about the recommendation to delay its long awaited new toilets in the Quay car park.

In a letter signed by its parish clerk it says it is "extremely disappointed and aggrieved."

Planning permission was granted four years ago yet "not one iota" of progress had been achieved, said the parish council. While it was aware there had been an objection from a local landowner regarding the siting of the toilets, fours years was surely sufficient time to have resolved this.

"By deferring this project until 2010/11 you are, in effect, depriving Instow of a most necessary resource, a commodity that is essential to a parish that relies heavily on tourism."

District ward councillor Rodney Cann said while the council, like many others up and down the country, faced tremendous pressure on spending, these toilets were something the council had committed to and he felt delay was wrong. He had voted against the re-scheduling and would be asking the district council to look at it again once the legal obstacles had been resolved.

South Molton district councillor David Worden said they had been promised new toilets since 2001 and it was ridiculous that they were still waiting.

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