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Council halts non-urgent spending in bid to tackle ‘significant financial challenges’

Torbay Council has announced an immediate moratorium on spending as it tries to deal with financial trouble and a predicted £2.8m overspend at the end of March next year. 

The council-- which is controlled under the elected mayoral system, populated with six independent councillors, one UKIP, and one Conservative councillor-- said the main reason behind the spending cuts is a 20% increase in the number of children in its care since November last year.

All non-urgent spending will be blocked, meaning some public services will be stripped back or axed completely and the council will not be able to buy new vehicles, machinery or equipment.

The famous Torbay Airshow may also fall victim to the cuts.

Chief executive Steve Parrock claimed that the council has not “run out of money” or used its cash reserves, and that the moratorium has in fact been put in place to protect these reserves.

He added: “This means that even if an activity or contract is budgeted for, it may be postponed or cancelled if it isn’t urgent or required to meet our statutory duties.

“Every effort continues to be made to bring forward further efficiency savings and deliver our current transformation projects at pace.”

Parrock noted that Torbay Council, like other local authorities, continues to face “significant challenges” due to government funding cuts and increasing demands.

Northamptonshire County Council has been in the news this month for similar reasons after approving radical cuts to jobs and services as it tries to fight its way out of a section 144 spending ban. The local authority faces a budget shortfall of £70m, with the government sending commissioners to help run services back in April.

Top image: c. George Standen

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