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Leader of Torridge District Council Councillor Philip Collins believes there is now future for district councils

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 26, 2013

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THE leader of Torridge District Council does not believe there is a future for district councils if the Government continues to cut funding at the current rate.

Councillor Philip Collins claims the financial forecast for local authorities over the next five years is so bleak he is not sure they will survive.

He thinks authorities like Torridge District Council will have to merge with other authorities or disappear altogether because the lack of funding will make it impossible for them to run as they are.

Mr Collins said: "There is no future for district councils, with the cuts predicted as they are we won't be providing the services we currently do."

Jenny Wallace, the head of paid service at the district council, added: "I am challenging the heads of service to see what we can cut but it is very difficult to cut more. Even cutting things like discretionary services means cutting things like economic regeneration."

Mr Collins added: "We wouldn't survive five years in the current form of cuts unless something changes in the way we work. It is a bleak future."

Torridge is due to have its funding cut to £6 million over the next four years – a cut of £4 million since 2009.

Mr Collins said the fact the Local Enterprise Partnerships will now receive 40 per cent of district councils' New Homes Bonus, the Government payment to councils based on the number of new homes built, will cause a lot more pressure.

One way Torridge and North Devon councils have been trying to save costs is by sharing services but Mr Collins said the shared services savings could only go so far.

Both councils are due to discuss the future of shared services at meetings next week.

Mr Collins said costs could be saved by closing the district council's offices in Torrington and Holsworthy.

He said: "Everything is being looked at in terms of trying to save costs and the district offices are being investigated as an option, as are many other things. Extending electronic services is being looked at as an alternative."

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