Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Poole council leader accused of “scaremongering” after painting picture of ‘financial apocalypse’

WITH a £2.4million budget surplus likely at the end of this financial year, Poole’s council leader has been accused of “scaremongering”.

But Cllr Elaine Atkinson, whose proposed 1.94 per cent council tax rise was outvoted at the budget meeting, says the borough is still teetering on the edge of a financial “abyss”. 

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Phil Eades, said the figure could rise even further when the final accounts are produced next month. 

“It was scaremongering in the least for the leader to paint a picture of financial apocalypse at February’s budget meeting when she should have known the extent of the current year’s profit made at the expense of the people of Poole,” he said.

“This figure proves that the council would have been vastly overcharging local residents if council tax had risen as the ruling Conservative group wanted and voted for.

People can be thankful Lib Dem and Poole People councillors voted this out and froze the tax again.” Cllr Atkinson warned: “We really are on a financial abyss” and reiterated her fears that the council could face bankruptcy in future. 

“The reason the Conservatives wanted to put up council tax wasn’t so we could fill the coffers,” she said. The budget was not a “short term one-year view that assumed the bucket was full on April 1 2012 and should be empty on March 31 2013.”

There were enormous pressures from both children’s and adult social services. “We still have to find over £14m over the next three years in savings and cuts and accepting a council tax freeze grant puts that up to just under £17m.” 

She said much of the surplus came from arrangements with the NHS, including the health service picking up the care costs of people with continuing health care needs and the transfer of psychological services.

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