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Pendle council use use 'rainy day fund' to balance its books

First published in News

COUNCILLORS in Pendle will dip into their 'rainy day fund' - to the tune of £2.4million - to balance the books for 2013-14.

Around £860,000 worth of savings will be made over the coming year but the largest chunk used to plug the borough's deficit is set to be taken from their own reserves.

Another £450,000 of staff savings, from either job losses or deletion of posts has also been agreed as the authority sees its spending power reduced by £1.7million.

Proposals by Labour to axe chief executive Stephen Barnes - and share a boss with Burnley Council, were defeated.

Council leader Coun Joe Cooney said it was 'unfair to single out' Mr Barnes after years of dedicated service and Coun Tony Greaves, for the Liberal Democrats, said it was 'brain-dead' idea which would leave any chief executive with 'split loyalties'.

But Coun Mohammed Iqbal said the decision, and scrapping 16 councillors, could save the jobs of three regeneration officers and an engineer currently facing the sack.

"This coalition-run council is doing exactly what their masters in London are telling them and the people of Pendle need to tell them that their discriminatory policies will not be tolerated," he added.

Elsewhere the countryside access service, threatened with closure, has been retained and the much-maligned Discover Pendle has survived another attempt for its abolition.

Pendle Leisure Centre in Colne and West Craven Leisure Centre at Barnoldswick will also close for a fortnight in December and January. The Colne centre's sauna is also being scrapped.

Labour unsuccessfully called for the funding for Colne Blues Festival to be reduced by £10,000 and fresh attempts made to secure private backing But Coun Pauline McCormick, who sits on the board of organisers Pendle Leisure Trust, said: "There is not a company that tries harder in Pendle than us to get sponsorship."

The borough's portion of the council tax will remain frozen, as previously reported, and charges for replacement bins or bulky waste goods will not rise.

Councillors from all parties also ignored management team proposals to slash their expenses bill by nearly £35,000.

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