Conservative Councillors recently scrutinised a report from the Council's senior finance officer which predicts an alarming net overspend of £488,000 by the end of the current financial year.

Cllr Dennis Willetts, Leader of the Conservative Opposition on the Council, disclosed that individual departmental budgets predicted to over-spend by more than £50k included:

- The Finance Department expected to overspend on staff by £60k.

- The Economic Growth Department is predicting a shortfall of £266k due to a drop in income from North Colchester Leisure, the Culver Centre and for Digital income.

- Sports and Leisure Department anticipating a £78k shortfall due to a customer resistance to increased costs of its previously popular "Lifestyle" membership.

Cllr Willetts concluded: "The Council has set a budget for the year, and the controlling coalition of Lib-Dems, Labour and Independents must operate within it. The predicted over-spend shows reckless contempt by the Coalition. The Coalition must tighten its belt and find ways of bring spending down to the agreed level.

Cllr Lewis Barber, Conservative spokesperson on Resources added: "The council continues to waste resources through its own mismanagement and failure to achieve necessary targets to ensure we achieve healthy finances. The problem is, this failure isn’t just accountancy gobbledygook, but it will have a real impact on our town. It will see inadequate funds invested in low income areas on regeneration projects and to support key infrastructure improvements we need in the town. We must have healthy finances and sound management of the local economy to provide the investment our town needs."

Conservatives believe in strict financial control of Council Activity. When we take control we pledge to operate within the agreed budget.

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