We’re looking at a desperate situation
moving forward we’ve already had to reduce budgets by over £150 million pounds, fifty two percent less grant and we have a gap in the budget
next year going forward of £29 million pounds which
means even further cuts, even more Council Tax rises. What we’re facing is
an enormous challenge. Government has just simply, year on year, reduced
support to Gateshead Council. Our priority is to ensure that we’re giving vital services, social care to elderly people and to young people in need and
increasingly that’s taking up the vast majority of our budget it leaves very
little to provide the other wide range of services but that’s our priority.
Every single opportunity the government has had has taken money away from areas like Gateshead and distributed to areas of greatest affluence, so what’s bad is
going to get worse. When I spend the time and explain the situation of exactly how difficult the council’s budget is the response I get was, I didn’t realise it
was that bad, and so I don’t think people really do understand how bad it is and
what the problem is, the financial problem is, which is confronting the council. You know Gateshead is a fantastic place we have every reason to be proud and the
progress that we made over the previous thirty years in terms of improving
education, the quality of the services that we provide. Yes of course we still
had deep-seated problems in terms of higher levels of unemployment, greater
levels of deprivation, but the improvement that we’d made over 30 years demonstrated the real strength and resilience of the people of Gateshead.
Like I say we’re resilient, resourceful people, I would love to have
support from central government. I think we deserve support from central government, I think morally they should
be giving us support But regardless of that, we’ll get
on and we’ll improve Gateshead.