WILTSHIRE’S Labour Parliamentary candidates have written a letter urging the Government to “honour its promise” and “rescue Wiltshire Council from impending bankruptcy”.
Tom Corbin, prospective parliamentary candidate for Salisbury is calling for more funding to be given to Wiltshire Council after it emerged the authority faces a £51 million funding black hole.
The letter, also signed by Martha Anachury, PPC for Chippenham, Jon Fisher, PPC for North Wiltshire, Emily Pomroy-Smith, PCC for South West Wiltshire and Rachael Ross, PCC for Devizes says: “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Wiltshire Council finds itself in an unprecedented financial emergency. It is looking at a net loss this year of around £50 million and has only £15 million in reserves.
“Its income is down, with leisure centres and car parks not contributing revenue, and all this is before costs around supporting schools to return or care homes to survive have even been added to the budget. Without an urgent injection of funds, Wiltshire Council will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy.”
It adds: “The Government promised they would fund whatever is necessary. Labour’s Communities & Local Government shadow team have consistently challenged the Government to honour this commitment and have highlighted that the funding so far announced will not be enough.”
Wiltshire Council has so far received £25.5 million in tranches, as well as £3.2 million in hardship funding to provide council tax relief for vulnerable residents.
However, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, leader of the Council, Cllr Philip Whitehead said the authority needed more help.
The letter adds: “One way that has been suggested to alleviate the funding shortfall is to raise the cap on council tax.
“We believe it is not right or fair, after ten years of austerity, that we ask ordinary people to pay again, nor that a regressive tax such as this be seen as a solution.
“Wiltshire Council faces financial ruin and savage cuts. We believe this is entirely avoidable and that the Government must step in.”
Responding to the call for more funding, Salisbury MP John Glen said: “Wiltshire Council alongside Salisbury City Council continue to do a fantastic job delivering services and supporting local residents at this challenging time.
“The Government will continue to support local communities as we have done throughout with the furlough scheme, various grants, government backed loans, mortgage holidays and other support packages.
“I will continue to work with the council to ensure they are supported as we move to bring our local economy back to life.”