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Forbes' figures are disputed.

Forbes' figures are disputed COUNCIL Leader Nick Forbes says (Chronicle, November 10) that he has only half a billion pounds to spend and not the three-quarters of a billion that my colleague Anita Lower commented upon.

I have to advise you and your readers (and Coun Forbes) that the only "mistake" that Coun Lower can be said to have made is to actually understate the amount that Coun Forbes and his party have to spend if you add together all sources of council income.

I refer Coun Forbes to his own budget report (in the March City Council meeting papers, when the budget was agreed).

There he will see the gross expenditure of the City Council is PS805m - almost half a billion pounds in specific grants and the revenue support grant from the government alone, plus PS125m from council fees and charges (such as parking charges, planning fees), rents and interest, together with PS80m from keeping some of the business rates and another PS85m from domestic council tax. He deliberately adds to reductions in central government revenue support grant the financial pressures (inflation) that councils have always had to deal with, and then presents the whole amount as cuts.

And he wants you to believe that Newcastle and the North East is worst hit by the admittedly-unfair Government local government cuts when, in percentage terms, cities such as Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester are much harder hit and several of the London boroughs hardest hit of all.

The council's annual net revenue budget (after allowing for all the other sources of income and expenditure) was PS270.3m in budget year 2010/11 under the Liberal Democrats and in this current year has only fallen to PS263.8m.

To be fair, the latter now includes PS20m of public health money transferred to the council last year from the former Primary Care Trust - but which we understand that Coun Forbes now wishes to use to support other council services.

If Coun Forbes and his party cannot run the city council on a total gross income of PS800m then perhaps he would like to step aside and we will do it.

DAVID FAULKNER, Liberal Democrat lead member on finance, Newcastle City Council

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 13, 2014
Words:368
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