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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Letter stokes fears of fresh South Lakeland District Council cuts looming

VITAL voluntary organisations in the South Lakes could lose thousands of pounds as part of a council funding review.

A number of rescue teams have been informed by South Lakeland District Council that their discretionary rate relief is being reviewed and could disappear next year.

SLDC economy and enterprise portfolio holder, Councillor Ian Stewart, said the letter was sent out to anyone currently exempt from paying business rates.

He said no decision has been made yet – but refused to rule out cutting the support to organisations including Bay Search and Rescue.

The rescue team, based in Flookburgh, supports emergency services across Morecambe Bay and stands to lose around £2,000 if its rate relief is cut.

Mike Davis, training officer, said: “It is a bit of a bolt out of the blue – a real frustration.”

The team is mainly funded through donations, he said, and any loss in support from the council would have to be covered by money given to them by members of the public.

The letter sent out last week informs organisations of the review into discretionary rate relief awarded by the council and invites them to take part in a consultation starting in July.

Any changes made to the current system would take effect from April 2014.

Mr Davis said if Bay Search and Rescue were to lose its rate relief it could affect the number of people on-hand in emergencies.

He added: “To equip one of the team members for flood rescue costs about £1,000.

“It could mean having 18 people instead of 20 because we can’t afford to train and equip those extra people.”

Cllr Stewart said he was a strong supporter of the work Bay Search and Rescue does but he could offer no guarantees about the outcome of the review.

He said that, because SLDC’s funding from central government had fallen by 28 per cent, all council grants and concessions would be subject to review.

He added: “All we are doing is flagging up that just because you might have had (discretionary rate relief) in the past, it doesn’t mean it is going to go on forever.”

Have your say

these rescue teams are vital to an area like morecambe bay where the sands are so treacherous, and also they get called to other incidents too, so any cut or extra tax burdens are detrimental to the cause.
If they had to pay to be rescued,how much would someone put on their life, you cannot put a price on life, so dont stop these excellent teams with red tape and money cuts

Posted by Rob Bethell on 18 March 2013 at 21:18

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