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Council tax is to be frozen despite senior officials needing to find £20m of savings.

North Tyneside Council approved its 2014/15 budget at a full meeting last night (Thursday) aiming to continue to provide opportunities for residents over the next four years while meeting severe financial challenges.

The authority has to find £62m of savings over the next four years - including £20m over the next 12 months - due to government funding cuts and inflationary pressures.

In a bid to help make those targets, the council has agreed to look at reshaping and redesigning services, reducing office accommodation and cutting management costs.

Despite the cutbacks, the authority says money will still be spent in increasing job opportunities in the borough, regenerating town centres, building more affordable housing, and completing regeneration works at the Spanish City in Whitley Bay and the North Bank of the Tyne in Wallsend.

And there will be no increase on council tax to help local families.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “It’s a challenging budget that none of us wants to have to set, but we are in this predicament due to the national funding constraints and have no option but to take on those challenges and do our best for local people and the borough.

“We’ve listened to what our residents have told us about how they think we should prioritise how we spend public money and that will mean we are not cutting libraries or closing children’s centres or introducing above inflationary fees and charges.”

She added: “But we want this borough and its residents to have a sustainable and successful future, so the budget also acknowledges our plans to continue to provide opportunities for North Tyneside and its people, through investment.

“It will see us investing in our regeneration plans for Wallsend – both the town centre and the North Bank of the Tyne – and Whitley Bay.

“We will address the eyesore properties that have blighted our coastline and other communities for so long and will prioritise delivering the Spanish City Dome project.

“We will work with partners to bring in investment and new employers and we will ensure that our people have opportunities for jobs, skills training, and more apprenticeships as that can help them improve their lives.”

Initiatives included in the budget to help save money are to carry out a review of the council’s portfolio of buildings; maximise the benefits of working with partners; working across services to cut transport and energy costs; and carrying out in-depth reviews into key areas of spending.

Among the projects are to develop a single all-age response team for social care; a review of services supporting vulnerable people; created an integrated adult, children and public health commissioning service; and develop a modern young people’s service.

Mrs Redfearn added: “Despite the government cuts we are committed to working to shape our future plans around the priorities that residents have told us are important to them.

“Therefore, we will make our financial plans work to deliver those priorities, including providing more jobs, increasing affordable housing, and making our services more people focused.”

 

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