(Almost) No service is sacred in B&NES economy drive.

As a service provider, it seems almost nothing is safe and untouchable when it comes to economies forced on the new Conservative-controlled Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Cllr Tim Warren Leader of B&NES.
Cllr Tim Warren
Leader of B&NES.

I have just had my first interview with Cllr Tim Warren the newly-appointed leader of the Council and the man at the head of an elected body forced to look for savings of 38 million pounds in its budgeting over the next four years.

The tourist season in full swing.
The tourist season in full swing.

Central government is going to hold back 3.3 billion pounds from local councils in 2016/17 as part of its drive to balance the national budget – and all this is going to hurt somewhere.

The new B&NES administration was elected on a pledge to put residents first but it also publicly stated that it would strive to run an efficient authority and encourage others to  invest in the area.

A colourful corner of Milsom Street
A colourful corner of Milsom Street

New housing would bring extra rates revenue and they were not afraid to take on the transport/traffic issue.

Tim Warren – fresh from a very short break – seems motivated and enthusiastic – if a little nervous of what questions l might put his way.

The Virtual Museum of Bath isn’t there to play tennis with politicians but l was keen to see where things were going half way through what is a massive spending review.

The Corridor in Bath
The Corridor in Bath

He’s not saying much until they complete their examination and make some official policy announcements in October but he did make it clear that -be it bus subsidies or refuse collections  – nothing was safe from coming under an economic review.

The one ‘joy’ for B&NES ratepayers is that the Discovery card – giving free or discounted admission to many of the city’s heritage attractions – IS safe.

Also, there was praise for Bath’s independent traders who, he said, had helped the city ‘buck the recession’ and also vague talk of new developments and jobs to take some of the gloom out of the doom.

Speaking of which Cllr Warren was even a little upbeat about the savings B&NES was going to have to make.