A councillor has called for the financial taps to be turned on sooner in order to fund projects across Lichfield and Burntwood.
A report to a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s cabinet this week revealed that the local authority was expected to see its projected general reserves by March 2022 increase by £148,477 to £7,134,301.
Cllr Andy Smith, cabinet member for innovation and corporate services, said the figures showed there was now a case for the cabinet member for finance, Cllr Rob Strachan, to loosen the purse strings.
“I would urge the cabinet member to be a little less risk averse.
“We as a council have a large programme of many things we want to do and I would urge the cabinet member to open up the taps sooner.”Cllr Andy Smith, Lichfield District Council
But Cllr Strachan insisted now was not the time to take risks with the council’s finances.
“I’d quite like to open the taps and spend wildly, but I do remind Cllr Smith we are still carrying a funding gap over the five year term in excess of £2million.
“I cannot in all conscience do that.”Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council
Other members of the cabinet group also echoed the calls for caution amid concerns over the long-term funding for local authorities.
Cllr Angela Lax, cabinet member for regulatory, housing and health, said:
“It would be premature at this stage of the game to open the taps.
“I was on a call for cabinet members involved with continuing the work on homelessness and the Minister of Housing said Central Government was very aware that councils desperately needed certainty and not to be living from year to year.
“As we come out of Covid, they are keen to try to put forward a more long term approach to council funding.
“We’d all like to spend money but you’ve got to be careful. Let’s just see how the wind blows for now.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
But Cllr Smith insisted residents would not accept the council sitting on reserves if money needed to be spent across the district.
“We sit here every year and we’re told about a funding gap and that seems to move to the next year, and the next year after that.
“I’m not saying we spend wildly, what I’m saying is lets stop counting the numbers so much and let’s start spending because that’s what our residents want.”Cllr Andy Smith, Lichfield District Council