Delegation to make case for more money

By Emily Pearce

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

 

UPDATED 13:02*

A GROUP of Isle of Wight councillors and MP Andrew Turner will visit Westminster today (Wednesday) to ask for more money, in a bid to tackle one of the worst budget crises the authority has ever faced.

A cross-party delegation including council leader Cllr Ian Stephens, group leaders Cllrs Dave Stewart, Reg Barry, Geoff Lumley and Daryll Pitcher, council managing director Dave Burbage and head of economy and tourism John Metcalfe, will meet with local government minister Brandon Lewis to make the Isle of Wight's case for increased funding.

As previously reported, a raft of public services look set to be farmed out to parish councils and community groups, scaled back or scrapped, as the council looks to save £28m over the next three years.

Hundreds of local authority jobs are also expected to be lost.

The delegation will press for additional funding in light of the 2014/15 local government settlement — the main grant awarded to the council by central government — announced last month.

As reported, the grant amounts to £65.1m next year, reduced from £71.7m. It will be reduced to £55.8m the following year.

The delegation follows calls from Unison branch secretary Mark Chiverton for the council and MP to highlight the Island's reliance on public services and the need for additional funding compared to other parts of the south east.

*In a statement issued this morning (Wednesday) Mr Turner said:  "It is not as easy as simply saying 'we need more money’ – the Council must put forward properly reasoned arguments, supported by facts, to have any chance of success.  

"In the past we have had success with a similar cross-party approach; when the Government wanted to remove the Area Cost Adjustment (ACA) funding.  Cllr. Shirley Smart was Council Leader then, and the cross-party group successfully argued that we should retain the ACA which has been worth millions of pounds to the Island over the years."

Cllr Stephens said: "It has been well documented recently that we face significant financial challenges over the next three years.

"We do feel the Isle of Wight Council has a very good case and we look forward to discussing this directly with the minister.

"This is a cross-party delegation supported by senior officers and the MP, and it is important we work together to try to do the absolute best we can for the Isle of Wight."

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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