A COUNCIL already facing drastic spending cuts of £69m over the next two years is now looking at having to axe an additional £24.5m.

North Yorkshire County Council has to find ways of making crippling savings totalling £93.5m in the next two years.

Earlier this year, North Yorkshire County Council launched a drive to reduce costs by £69m.

Recently that figure was rounded up to include an extra £22m with an anticipated council tax freeze and further changes to Government funding.

But today’s (Wednesday, December 4) autumn statement by the chancellor saw the council funding receive a further blow, pushing the savings total up by a further £2.5m.

The huge budget black hole will mean the council will have to scrutinise every service it provides in a bid to find savings. The cuts may have to begin as soon as April.

In a joint statement, County Councillor leader John Weighell and chief executive Richard Flinton issued a bleak warning, saying: “We will continue to do everything within our power to implement these savings with the least adverse impact on the people of North Yorkshire, but it is inevitable that the quality of service we offer will suffer.”

The council is running a series of consultation events over the next two months with residents, where councillors and officers will explain the financial challenges facing them and how it proposes to tackle them.

Coun Weighell said the council has already made considerable savings from reducing administration and bureaucracy and had done “all it can” to protect frontline services, which it will continue to do so.

But he added: “However, we have now reached the stage where we will have to look at every service the council provides.

“We also have to work to a short deadline. “The first indication that the council would face cuts of this nature came in August, and we didn’t know the full scale of the savings until last month.

“In fact, we expect the figures will only be confirmed in January, just a few months before we need to be making the savings.”

The first consultation will be held at Northallerton Library on Tuesday, December 11 at 6.30pm. There will then be consultations taking place at venues across the county over the following weeks.

People can find out more and give their views on the council’s spending priorities by visiting the website: www.northyorks.gov.uk/budget