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countyhallchambersThe Isle of Wight Council is to hold a meeting with the minister for local government early in the New Year following the announcement of its provisional finance settlement for 2015/2016.

The meeting with Kris Hopkins will take place on 13th January in London, with the main focus on the likely impact the settlement will have on the council’s services to the community.

The financial settlement announced last week was broadly in line with predictions and means that the council must still save £13.5 million in the coming financial year in order to contain its annual spending within the resources it will have available next year.

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Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Ian Stephens, said:

“We accept that the country still faces difficult financial challenges and the meeting we are seeking is not about asking for hand outs from the government to help our cause, because it is highly likely that would be simply be rejected.

“What we would like however is some recognition of the challenges we face as an island and the ability to be able to generate new income and access alternative forms of funding to help sustain Island life.

“This can come from the development of enterprise zones, initiatives to support business growth and the provision of secure, affordable and accessible cross Solent travel. We will once again be seeking to raise these ideas with government.

“The council is committed to raising the educational standards in our schools and ensuring that vulnerable people of all ages are kept safe from harm. These will continue to be the focus of our attention but if we are not able to make an impression on the government then I fear our aspirations for growing the economy and tourism will be severely hindered. Ultimately this may mean that some of the services that underpin these important areas are significantly reduced.”

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The council has recently completed a series of budget consultation events and an online survey, with the results being analysed. A proposed new budget for the new financial year will be discussed by the Full Council at its February meeting.

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