Council chiefs could have to find £35 million of savings next year, it has been revealed.
Councillor Keith Barrow warned of a ‘very traumatic time ahead’ as the council faces the prospect of finding savings of up to £70 million over the next four years.
He made the comments as he was formally re-elected at yesterday’s meeting of the full authority – the first since the local elections two weeks ago.
But he insisted budget cuts could be found with current levels of service not only maintained, but improved.
It comes after the authority revealed plans to introduce free 15-minute parking in towns across Shropshire from Monday.
Council leader Keith Barrow said the aim of the move was to encourage drivers to visit their town centre without being put off by parking charges.
The move was today welcomed by business leaders – who hoped the grace period could be extended further.
Councillor Barrow said in his first four years as leader of the council the authority had made savings of £87 million with a ‘minimal impact on services’.
He said: “We have a very traumatic time ahead of us. We are being told we may have to find savings of up to £35 million next year.
“It is going to be a challenge, but it is one which we will rise to.
“By doing things differently we will be able to save money and not just provide the same service, but provide a better service.”
Councillor Barrow paid tribute to his fellow councillors, saying the savings the authority had already made could not have been achieved without their help.
He said: “Every one of you who helped me deserves a round of applause. We could not have done this if we had not worked as a team.”
Nominating Councillor Barrow as leader, chairman Councillor Malcolm Pate said he was the ‘right man in the right place’.
He said: “Over the last four years, he has done a great job overseeing these cuts largely without affecting frontline services for the people of Shropshire. I am sure we have the right man in the right place to deliver for Shropshire Council.”
Councillor Ann Hartley, who seconded the nomination, said: “It has been a very difficult four years and Keith has got us through in a very calm manner.”
But she warned: “I think the next four years could be even stormier.”