Spending Review: Council cuts 'what we expected'

The level of cuts announced to local government budgets are in line with what was expected, the Tory leader of Staffordshire County Council said.

Philip Atkins, who also chairs the West Midlands Council, said the cut of 7.1% each year over four years was less than some had expected.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the figure in his Spending Review speech.

Mr Atkins said the Conservative-led authority had already been making reforms to prepare for savings.

He said: "We have been remodelling our services so we could concentrate on front line services and make the necessary savings in the back office.

"We have been looking at doing things differently such as working voluntary groups and third sector partners.

"I think we can deliver what we have to," he added.

There are about 24,000 public sector workers in Stafford and it is estimated that about 2,000 jobs will go within the next six years.

Jeremy Stinton, from Stafford Chamber of Commerce, said he could see three new areas of private sector growth which would be key to rebalancing the economy.

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He said: "In energy with people like Alstom Grid there's huge opportunities with those eight nuclear power stations the government is bringing on stream.

"The second is bio-fuels. We have a company - Biomass - which is helping farmers turn crops into fuel.

"I think the third opportunity is on the creative sector in online videos.

"There's a huge explosion in that area."

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