£100,000 services fund likely to be a one-off, says Worcester City Council boss

Worcester News: The Guildhall, home of Worcester City Council The Guildhall, home of Worcester City Council

A £100,000 fund to improve services at Worcester City Council is likely to be a one-off sum, it has emerged.

Amid concerns a "black hole" could appear in the finances, managing director Duncan Sharkey says the cash kitty is unlikely to last beyond the next 12 months.

The city council's new Conservative leadership has decided to earmark the six-figure sum towards seeing what services need beefing up.

At the moment cabinet members are going out to look at key service areas to see what can be improved such as bin collections, parks and sports centres.

The cash has come from a hefty £367,000 surplus from the previous budget, mainly due to better than expected income in areas like planning applications, leisure and car parking.

The £100,000 allocation has led to concern from the opposition Labour group that if it becomes a yearly spend, it could jeopardise plans to cut around £4 million from the budget by 2019.

Mr Sharkey was asked about the sum during a meeting of the performance, management and budget scrutiny committee.

Labour Councillor Geoff Williams, the former deputy leader, said: "Are we looking to use that £100,000 as a one-off payment, or will it be a recurring fund - and won't this just add to the financial gap that's been identified in the budget?"

Mr Sharkey said: "The new administration wants to review the quality of a range of services, and the fund is about seeing if we want to put any extra money in once each area has been looked at.

"At this moment in time it's a one-off fund, which it's why it's in the reserves - if we wanted to have it again there'd have to be a discussion about next year's budget.

"I'm not aware of any proposals to provide the fund again."

As your Worcester News revealed last week, the rest of the £367,000 surplus has been earmarked towards several different areas.

It includes scrapping a £10,000 cut in playground equipment, reversing a £40,000 reduction in litter picks, street sweeping and cleaning, and £212,000 on a 'change' budget which will examine if any services can be handed to other providers.

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