More tough choices ahead for Suffolk

As members of Suffolk County Council's cabinet gathered to discuss next year's budget there was a blunt warning that things could get even tougher in future.

The county is trying to find spending cuts of �43m in the first of a three-year austerity programme that could see the council's budget shrink by �125m.

And as they yesterday discussed cuts which many cabinet members accept could be painful, there was a warning from deputy leader Jane Storey, who is responsible for resource management at the county, that next year could be even worse.

She said: 'It is likely for next year's budget we may have to look at significant savings – possibly more then this year's.'

Her cabinet colleague Colin Noble welcomed the fact that this year's budget would enable the county council to freeze its element of council tax.

Suffolk's council tax has been a potent political issue since bills were put up by 18pc by the former Labour/LibDem administration in 2003.

Mr Noble said: 'I am delighted we are proposing no council tax rise this year.'

Most Read

He said there had been tough decisions for all cabinet members – but the county was determined to support the most vulnerable members of society.

Before the cabinet meeting, councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor accepted petitions from school crossing patrol staff anxious about the future of that service.

The county council is reviewing the role of lollipop men and women as part of its cost-saving plans.

The proposal is to scrap all of the 60 positions in Suffolk, as well as four relief positions, saving approximately �174,000.

In total there are 14 in Lowestoft and four posts in Beccles and Bungay.

A group of lollipop women from Waveney were joined by one from Ipswich alongside local Labour activists who had organised the petition.

Mr McGregor said he had ensured that the patrols would be able to continue operating until the end of the summer term to give schools and parents the opportunity to find other ways of running them.

A patrol in Ipswich is to be sponsored by an estate agency and Mr McGregor remains hopeful others could follow the same course.

He said: 'We have managed to ensure they can remain in place until July. I am very hopeful that with that extra time, more patrols will be able to find other funding from schools, PTAs, or sponsors.'

After getting the approval of the cabinet, the full council will debate the administration's budget at its next meeting on February 17.