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Southend Air Show cancelled and pier shut in budget cutbacks
SOUTHEND Air Show will be cancelled and the pier will close two days a week as Southend Council struggles to balance its books.
Council tax will rise by 1.75 per cent – 38p per week for Band D properties – and the authority will slash more than £10million from its budget as it deals with a £3.2million drop in government funding.
A total of 80 jobs will be lost in the cutbacks, although 41 are already vacant posts.
Council leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “We no longer have any leeway and we have to make real cuts to services in order to balance our books - and that involves making some very hard choices.
“Some of the savings we are proposing won’t be popular with residents but I would ask them to bear in mind that this crisis was not of our making.”
The closure of Southend Pier on Mondays and Tuesdays between November 1 and April 1 will save £50,000 and ceasing to hold the popular air show, which brings hundreds of thousands of tourists to the town, will save a further £130,000.
Other cuts include £1.8million to adult and community services, £1.7million to children and learning, £1.3 to enterprise tourism and the environment, £794,000 to support services and £846,000 to the corporate department.
And austerity looks set to continue as government funding is expected to drop by a further 8.9 per cent - £6.834million – in 2014-15.
Mr Holdcroft said: “These difficult financial conditions are not going to improve any time soon and we will have further difficult decisions to make in years to come.
“We are determined not to make decisions on a short-term year-by-year basis and have already begun looking at how we can make major savings in service delivery going forward.
“We have to take a new approach to how we provide libraries, museums, leisure facilities, old people’s homes, children’s centres and waste services.”
For full details of the budget and analysis see Tuesday’s Echo.