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“Tough choices” ahead

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale

COUNCIL boss Gavin Stevenson has warned there will be more “tough choices” ahead for the region.

Next week he will tell councillors that his officials have, so far, successfully identified over £8.3 million of cost savings and are working to implement those.

But he will also warn that current levels of service offered by the council cannot continue.
In a report for next Tuesday’s meeting, chief executive Mr Stevenson said: “The significant fiscal challenge and uncertainty this council faces will require members and crucially the public to understand that current levels of service provision cannot be sustained.”
He revealed that officials are currently investigating opportunities for sharing and partnering with other organisations in a bid for further efficiency.
And he added: “We will, with our partners, seek efficiencies wherever they can be achieved, however further tough choices will have to be made.
“In particular, funding activities, particularly new activities, outwith the core priorities of the council is not affordable.”
Looking ahead, he said: “Austerity, combined with increasing prioritisation of funding to national priority areas, will in my view require the development of a new longer term financial strategy.”
Elsewhere in his report, Mr Stevenson says that 12 service reviews have been carried out on time and work is underway to deliver savings across the local authority.
He notes that there has been a reduction in council departments from six to four; a cut in head of service posts from 18 to 14; a regrouping of services and that there are now fewer management tiers.
The chief executive added: “In total the service reviews identified £8,362,278 of potential savings for members’ consideration.
“These have proved vital in underpinning the delivery of the council’s financial strategy, even in the face of the challenging financial position the council has experienced.”

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