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Area councils cash ‘snatch’

CASH-STRAPPED Hyndburn Council is clawing back thousands of pounds from area council coffers.

CASH-STRAPPED Hyndburn Council is clawing back thousands of pounds from area council coffers.

The move has been made to alleviate the council's financial problems, and is backed by both Labour and Conservative area council chairmen.

Three weeks ago council leader Peter Britcliffe made the shock announcement that £1.8M may have to be found to stop the council going into the red.

Those of the eight area councils which had saved cash will now have to hand back the unspent funds - a total of around £65,000.
Councillors have assessed outstanding projects planned for next year and some will have to be shelved.

Councillor Malcolm Pritchard, Accrington Area Council chairman, said: "Hyndburn Council is in a mess so the money has to go back. Every penny helps. The situation is unfortunate but we can't blame the Tories, nor can we blame Labour."

Councillor David Myles, chairman of Clayton and Altham Area Council, said the decision would leave important work undone.

He said: "It's obviously upsetting because we had projects in mind but at the end of the day, though we would love to spend it, there are more important things for the council to spend it on."

Councillor Brendan Shiel, chairman of Huncoat Area Council, said more than £20,000 has been wiped from its budget, casting doubt over Huncoat's hopes of entering the Britain in Bloom competition.

Councillor Britcliffe said: "It's very disappointing to have to do this but the reality is money was budgeted last February by the previous administration which simply didn't exist.

"I am sure no-one wants us to spend money we haven't got which would lead to excessive rises in council tax in a few months' time.

"While it's easy to make comparisons with Scrooge, I'm sure people wouldn't want us to treat Hyndburn's finances as a pantomime.

"Hopefully the measures we are taking will minimise the damage and put us back on course, and I hope people will appreciate that."

Mr Joe McIntyre, chief financial officer, said various measures were being considered to cut the council's "potential overspend".


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