Tories rail against St Neots budget

IN the current year, St Neots Lib Dem Town Council will spend �2million against a Council Tax income of �803,000. The town council s savings , its general reserves, are minimal and, fingers crossed, it is optimistically hoped these will not fall further

IN the current year, St Neots Lib Dem Town Council will spend �2million against a Council Tax income of �803,000. The town council's "savings", its general reserves, are minimal and, fingers crossed, it is optimistically hoped these will not fall further in the next 15 months.

Last week's Lib Dem budget failed to address repeated criticisms of the council's inept handling of public money made by both internal and external auditors for the past two years.

Council staffing costs will rise to �600,000, approaching 75 per cent of total taxpayer revenue.

Total council expenditure is set to increase by 11 per cent because of projected losses at the new Eatons Community Centre, adding to large losses at the Priory Centre and increased staff costs.

The 11 per cent increase to subsidise the Eatons Community Centre is funded by Eynesbury Hardwicke and Loves Farm residents, and this will continue for another 30 years at least until the loans are paid.

Proposals for community centres promised to Eynesbury and Loves Farm by the Lib Dems are being mothballed, and the �89,000 windfall the town council will receive from them each year from April will now be used to cover losses elsewhere.

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Eynesbury and Loves Farm will not even get a bench or bus shelter, let alone the community facilities those areas have long waited for and desperately need.

This year's windfall is not enough for a community centre but, saved each year, would have provided enough in a couple or so years' time. Huntingdonshire District Council has already provided �350,000 and land for a Loves Farm Community Centre.

Any remaining money from Loves Farm and Eynesbury is to be used for a one-off cut of 3.5 per cent in the town precept, equivalent to one pint of beer per household per year. The town council could have used that money to keep our public toilets open, paid for pavements to be gritted or repair a car park, things the council says it cannot afford. Nine out of 10 councillors for Eynesbury and Priory are Liberal Democrats but none stood up for residents of those wards.

Councillor BARRY CHAPMAN

St Neots Town Council

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