Council’s budget settlement leaves it looking at some tough choices

Green wheelie bin collections and other services could be ‘up for review’ as North Devon Council faces another punishing budget cut from the Government.

The council’s lead member for the environment, Councillor Rodney Cann, said the free garden waste collection may need to be reviewed, along with a number of so-called ‘courtesy’ services.

The council’s free bulky goods collection may also be looked at in light of the authority’s local government settlement figure, announced by Chancellor’s George Osborne yesterday (Thursday).

The council has been dealt a cut of £750,000 for 2016/17, around 15 per cent less than its budget for 2015/16. Last year it had a 14 per cent cut.

Mr Cann said no decisions had been made, but the council would have no option but to review a number of non-statutory services it currently provides.

He told the Gazette: “In light of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and the settlement figure, we are going to have to look at all non-mandatory services, including some that are very popular.”

Leader Des Brailey said they had planned for cuts of 10 or 15 per cent: “15 will be more difficult and we will have to take stock of our areas of responsibility and see where we go from there,” he said.

“We are going to have to take some difficult decisions to cover the gap we have been left with. However, I am not looking at this time at drastic measures.”

Mr Cann said the free garden waste service was well-used but subsidised and cost the council around £700,000 a year to run a service it didn’t have to provide.

“We were given £1million to implement the scheme and were getting landfill credits but the rug has now been pulled from under us,” he said.

Mr Cann said the district council was the only authority in Devon to provide a free bulky goods collection.

“It is something I’m very proud of and I wouldn’t want to see any of these services scrapped, but if we are going to maintain our credibility as an authority, we are going to have to examine our options and look at some of the courtesy services we provide.

“No decision has been taken and we haven’t even looked at these things in any detail.”