Sunderland ‘on a knife edge’ as cuts strip services down to the bone

Council leader Paul Watson
Council leader Paul Watson
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Sunderland’s council is now “on a knife edge” because of the Conservative’s budget cuts, according to its Labour leader.

Councillor Paul Watson said the city needs to show the world money markets it can compete for business, while balancing the tough job of tackling the deficit as it develops its economy.

The people of our city should have our assurances we will be working hard come the next budget and we need to be open and transparent with the public that we are on a knife edge.”

Councillor Paul Watson

His comments over the council’s budget was prompted by papers setting out the council’s financial future and the expected savings it faces, with the final settlement still due from Westminster.

Coun Watson said: “We have got no option but to reduce service standards. Our priority is to support statutory duties.

“If someone calls us about a rat infestation, we would want to manage that, but this Government sees it as unnecessary and takes money away from us to do that.

“There’s no rational reason for it, other than they are fundamentally ideologically opposed to local Government services.

“Over the years we will see this city in dire straits. The people of our city should have our assurances we will be working hard come the next budget, and we need to be open and transparent with the public that we are on a knife edge.”

Councillor Celia Gofton told fellow cabinet members: “From now on, everything changes. This paper represents those changes, and if people didn’t realise that, they are in for a terrible shock.”

Councillor John Kelly said the Government had treated the North unfairly, cutting its cash more than other areas.