BCC freeze on non-essential spending.

  We have received the following message from Gemma Dando, BCC there is particularly disappointing news about the Head of Parks role. Three members of the BPF committee had taken part in the recent recruitment process.


I wanted to drop you a short note to offer some explanation about the content of the press release from the council today that you may have seen.




The main text reads:


Bristol City Council is extending its freeze on non-essential spending as it works to balance its annual budget and prepare for a five-year £92m financial gap from next April.


At the beginning of the financial year the council needed to make £35.4m of savings by the end of March 2017. During the year additional pressures such as the rising demand for social care services increased this, and a report to the council’s Cabinet on 6 December reveals that in-year efforts brought the total gap down to £27.5m by the end of September. With more progress to make, the council is deepening its spending freeze to include non-essential maintenance, recruitment and new or renewed contracts for goods and services.


The voluntary spending freeze will remain in place until the council has firm plans for a balanced budget this year and next, along with a more developed five-year plan.


The move means that all maintenance of buildings, roads and parks will stop unless there is a risk to people’s health or safety. The council will also stop recruiting any permanent or temporary roles unless they provide legally-required services, and will not agree any new or extended contracts for goods or services without approval from the Chief Executive and statutory financial and legal officers. More discretionary spending is likely to be added to this list in coming weeks.


In terms of parks, there are two main things that this will affect


1.       All spend from the council’s general fund on parks repairs through to investment will be put on hold.  Specifically this means that the programme of play investment, the remaining access programme work, some of the repairs to walls and paths that were being carried out through the area teams, and any fix it work that requires spend.  Work on s106, CIL, capital and externally funded projects will continue.  Any urgent Health and Safety jobs will also continue.


2.       Unfortunately we had some bad news last week in that the Head of Parks that we had recruited has dropped out and decided not to take up the job offer in Bristol.  As this is not a legally-required role, we will not be looking to re-advertise this at present, and will review what the future management of the service might look like.


I appreciate that this is difficult news, and we will work with you in order to minimise the impact on our parks and green spaces as much as we can within the parameters of the spending restrictions


Many thanks



Gemma Dando,  Deputy Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities

Bristol City Council,  P O Box 3176,  BRISTOL,  BS3 9FS

gemma.dando@bristol.gov.uk      0117 352 1090



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Comment by Fo SAP on December 4, 2016 at 12:57

4.12.16 We have had further clarification from Gemma.

Gemmas confirms that the basic functions of parks maintenance (emptying bins, opening and shutting the parks and changing rooms where required, pitch marking, strimming, cutting etc) will continue.  We will not be buying anything aside from the bare essentials (petrol, bin bags) so it means that fix-it work and any repairs work will be limited to only things that are health and safety critical.  The investment programme for play and some access works will cease.  The staff all remain in post so the liaison will continue with BPF members in their local parks.

 The purpose of the freeze is to enable the council to close the budget gap for this year (2016-17) and so all spend is being minimised as much as possible.  However, this does not mean that services will be entirely shut down, it is about purchases and minimising this spend.

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