Things are bad, says council chairman

Councillors will be faced with making tough choices in the next few weeks, Babergh District Council has warned as it sets its budget for 2013/2014.

Jennie Jenkins, chairman of the council’s strategy committee said: “Things are bad.

“Were it not for the savings already achieved and projected to be realised in future years because of our integration with Mid Suffolk, then a difficult situation would have been a truly bleak one.

“Our plans are therefore vital to how this council will operate in achieving the outcomes our communities want, even in a time of austerity.”

The council is recommending a further freeze in council tax, and it plans additional staff savings of £350,000 in 2013/2014 as a result of voluntary redundancies.

The budget, to be agreed by the end of next month, will include looking again at increasing long-stay parking charges in Hadleigh and Sudbury.

The council says it is reviewing all of its costs, including a cost of around £200,000 for car parking in the district.

Mayor Jack Owen said he was not surprised car parking charges were back on Babergh’s budget agenda.

Sudbury Town Council and the town’s traders and businesses have been working on a proposal to take over the management of car parks in Sudbury.

Mr Owen said: “We are looking at the feasibility of our plan at the moment and getting legal advice on it.”

Babergh says no firm proposal has emerged from discussions with the town council and businesses. And it says that if Sudbury does not “produce a way forward” by the summer, it will have to “consider other alternatives”.

The budget will be ratified by full council on February 26.