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Warning of tough times in 2012

LEADER of Solihull Council Ken Meeson has warned that the council will be facing more tough decisions in 2012 as it looks to slash its budget by £10m.

LEADER of Solihull Council Ken Meeson has warned that the council will be facing more tough decisions in 2012 as it looks to slash its budget by £10m.

The local authority has been studying how it can balance the books and Coun Meeson has said it’s going to be another “challenging” year.

“Although the amount we need to save is slightly down [from £15m this year], it comes on the back of the money we’ve already had to save,” he said. “Since 2007 we have had to save £56m. That’s an awful amount of money and obviously we’ve tended to make the easier savings first.

“As time goes on, it gets harder and we will have to look at perhaps introducing charges and making changes that we haven’t in the past.”

But there is some relief for residents, as council tax is expected to be frozen for the second consecutive year.

Coun Meeson said that one of the other priorities for the next 12 months will be finalising the local development framework. The controversial document, which will shape development in Solihull over the next 15 years, is ready to go out to consultation.

“It’s not just about a number of new houses, we must make sure that the proposals meet the needs of the borough,” he added. “In particular we need to sit down and put pressure on developers to provide the necessary homes, like specialist housing for the elderly.

Coun Meeson is also keen to see an end to the battle over plans to build a travellers’ site in Eaves Green Lane, Meriden. The High Court will consider the gypsies’ appeal against refusal of the plans by both Solihull Council and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles. “Hopefully that will be resolved and we won’t see it drag on any longer.”

l What issues do you want to see the council tackle in 2012? Write to 150, High Street, Solihull, B91 3SX or email solihull_news@mrn.co.uk

 

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