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Where should the axe fall?

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Where should the axe fall?

WHICH council services should be axed?

That’s the question that will be posed to the public later this year as councillors prepare for future reductions in their funding.
A public consultation is going to be held to find out which services people think could be stopped and if there is support for a rise in Council Tax.
Meanwhile, a warning of further reductions in council funding will be flagged up to councillors next week.
A report by the authority’s head of finance sets out the financial challenges to come in the next few years.
Paul Garrett highlights key factors, particularly the Scottish Government’s spending review and budget, due to be announced in the autumn and which is expected to cover three financial years up to 2020.
And he stresses that commitments made by the Scottish Government to protect certain areas, such as health and policing, are expected to result in further, potentially significant cash reductions for non-protected areas, including local government.
Mr Garrett said: “It is recognised that, beyond 2016/17, the extent of further funding reductions facing local government will require a fundamental reassessment of service priorities and the approach to service deliver.”
Responding, council leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “Last year the council faced an enormous challenge in having to find £21m of savings. However, if anyone believes that is the end of the cuts then they are likely to be very disappointed.
“All the indications are that local councils will continue to see a fall in their funding from the Scottish Government. While it is extremely difficult to accurately predict the extent of the funding reductions that the Scottish Government will apply to our council, it is obvious they will be very significant with suggestions of anywhere between £10 m and £20m of cuts again next year.”
He warned: “The debate we will be having won’t be about tweaking budgets but about stopping services.
“Over the next few months we will be asking the public which services it is they are prepared to see being stopped.”

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