Mayor’s role can’t avoid the cutbacks

Next Mayor: Pat Case
Next Mayor: Pat Case
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Controversial plans to strip back the role of the Chorley Mayor as part of budget cuts have been officially passed.

A special council meeting was called to debate the 2011/12 budget which will see £20,000 cut from the annual £100,000 Mayoral spend.

The savings mean that the new Mayor, Coun Pat Case - who will take over the reigns from Coun Ken Ball in May, will have to reduce the number of visits she makes outside of the borough and how often she is seen in public wearing the traditional chains.

The annual Mayor’s Ball has also been cancelled as part of the cutbacks and the traditional inauguration ceremony will be reformed.

The Conservative’s budget will also see council tax frozen for the next financial year and funding for PCSOs ring-fenced.

Investment in the town centre has also been pledged as well as funding for street cleaners and the voluntary sector.

The document was debated by elected representatives at the Town Hall on Tuesday and was passed by a clear majority.

Leader of the council, Coun Peter Goldsworthy said: “Just like everyone else we’ve been hit tremendously hard by the recession but thanks to the great work and dedication of our staff we’ve been able to minimise the impact on local people.

“We’ve listened to what residents have told us and by and large we’ve been able to deliver a budget that is fair and gives people more money in their pocket to spend how they want.

“It hasn’t been easy but we’ve been able to fund the budget gap mainly by doing things more efficiently and reducing the number of back office jobs, as well as sharing services with other councils.

“We realise everyone is struggling with their finances at the moment and we will do all we can to support them.”

The council announced a raft of redundancies in 2010, but Coun Goldsworthy said there were no new plans to cut more jobs at the Town Hall despite having to save £1m as part of funding cuts.

They will have to save a further £3m in the next four years, but insisted that it was ‘business as usual.’

However, leader of the opposition, Coun Alistair Bradley, claimed the council could have gone further to save money and increase spending in the community.

He said: “We proposed an alternative budget which would generate £500,000 to spend at the Town Hall and on projects including children’s playgrounds and alleygate schemes.

“We wanted to see councillor expenses, which are currently frozen, reduced by five per cent and the number of executive cabinet roles cut.

“At the minute the council is standing still and not making any significant investment, but they refused to listen to our ideas and had already decided on the budget even before it was debated at the special meeting.”