Bristol City Council must close an £108m budget gap between April 2018 and April 2023, with mayor Marvin Rees warning that “achieving this will not be easy and neither the journey nor the destination will necessarily be perfect”.
Money-saving measures include a potential pilot scheme that will see the council keep 100 per cent of business rates, rather than returning half to central government.
Rees also repeats his pledge made during his successful mayoral election to build 2,000 new homes a year by 2020, as well as not to bring in any new residents’ parking schemes.
Among the inevitable cuts to areas like parks and culture, Rees promises to deliver the long-awaited Bristol Arena, which was noticeable by its absence in his recent State of the City address.
Four consultations about specific services have been launched on Tuesday. These are:
- Prioritising allowance needs for special guardians and families with children who are voluntarily looked after by the council – www.bristol.gov.uk/budgetconsultation1
- Increase income generation and efficiency across culture services – www.bristol.gov.uk/budgetconsultation2
- Removal of remaining funding supporting neighbourhood action – www.bristol.gov.uk/budgetconsultation3
- New ways of running parks and open spaces – www.bristol.gov.uk/parksconsultation
Rees said: “Bristol is a successful city that has much to be proud of. We want everyone to share in that success and have real hope and aspiration.
“We face many challenges in achieving that, not least a £108m budget gap over the next five years as we try to deal with the consequences of austerity, increased costs and the rising population in the city.
“These are tough times but we’re getting a real grip on the challenge and have high hopes for Bristol’s continued success. This success needs to include everyone and empower local people, a sentiment which runs throughout our strategy.”
The new corporate strategy and budget consultation is available at www.bristol.gov.uk/corpstrategy
You can also have a go on the council’s new budget simulator to try to deal with the budget gap at www.bristol.budgetsimulator.com
The consultations are all open until December 17 2017, with the final decision on the overall budget due to be taken at the full council meeting in February 2018.