Mansfield Council ‘not prepared to gamble’ in managing £1.3m deficit

The councillor responsible for managing Mansfield Council’s £1.3 million deficit has said the authority is ‘not prepared to gamble with public money’.

By Andrew Topping
Friday, 5th November 2021, 9:27 am

The council has unveiled a string of measures – including raising council tax precepts and cutting councillor allowances – to manage its £1.3m financial black hole.

A four-minute meeting of the Labour cabinet approved the medium-term financial strategy, with scrutiny now ongoing before cabinet members receive feedback next month.

Under the plans, the authority would increase its portion of council tax by 1.99 per cent – the maximum allowed without a referendum – to claw back about £115,000.

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Coun Craig Whitby, Mansfield Council portfolio holder for corporate and finance.

It comes alongside a 50 per cent cut to councillors’ ward allowances and continuing to slash special responsibility allowances by 10 per cent, to raise £18,000 and £20,000 respectively.

The council would also use £300,000 of its reserves and increase fees and charges to recoup an additional £104,000.

However, the authority has been accused of not being ‘entrepreneurial’ in its approach.

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All been done before

Coun Phil Shields, who represents Netherfield, said: “There’s nothing entrepreneurial about getting money into the council.

“It’s easy hits. It’s increasing council tax to bring money in and cutting allowances to save money and it’s all been done before.

“There are alternatives and it could be there’s an alternative budget put together to come up with new ideas.

“But what frustrates me is, they should have been working on this after the last budget was set, not now. There’s not even nearly enough time to properly scrutinise it.”

In the past, the council has invested money into property investments to bring additional revenue into the district.

However, Coun Craig Whitby, portfolio holder for corporate and finance, says lost revenue from the ventures is a ‘contributing factor’ in the current problems.

He said: “The current proposal to reduce special responsibility allowances by 10 per cent is not new and, if approved, would provide an additional year of the reduction that is already in place for 2021/22.

“There are few options available to plug the deficit without impacting frontline services and jobs.

“Entrepreneurial ventures in the past have not always panned out as expected.

“Lost revenue from previous property investments are a contributing factor to the deficit we currently face.

“ I’m not prepared to gamble with public money or make our situation any more precarious.”

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