REDUCTIONS in funding for Bracknell’s beloved South Hill Park (SHP) has been postponed after concerns were raised about its ability to generate income.

The trust was set to receive £75,000 less from the council in funding this year, meaning its grant from the authority would have been nothing.

However, this reduction in funding has been put back to the next financial year after councillor Peter Heydon told the cabinet budget changes had been made following concerns raised by councillor Mary Temperton.

In a letter to Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) sent as part of the authority’s consultation on its budget, the Labour councillor wrote: “I again regret and oppose the withdrawing of grant funding to South Hill Park – the final reduction in funding of £75,000 in this budget.

“It had been assumed that the trust would be able to make up the shortfall from new generation of income from the enlarged restaurant, and weddings. The print room has been established upstairs, and the restaurant is being completed, but the necessary income has not yet been realised.

“I attended the SHP AGM and was greatly impressed by the expertise and mindset of the new trust board members. They will make this work. But they need more time. They have applied for a loan; if a grant cannot be given, then at least it will enable them to move forward with the loan.”

The council is also set to grant a £68,000 loan to SHP, which is to be repaid interest-free over a 20-year period, but the trust saw £244,000 of its funding cut as part of the council’s Arts Review Transformation programme in 2015.

A cut of £75,000 was planned for 2019 but after the concerns raised in the consultation period, the withdrawal has been saved for 2020.

This change was one of a number made to the council’s budget before it is decided on by full council at the end of February.

BFC has identified a further £368,000 needed to accomodate for pressures in the revenue budget.

A further £132,000 is needed to manage demand in adult social care, £80,000 more is needed than anticipated to support looked after children sent on placements and £149,000 more could be approved for a waste disposal initiative.

Before the cabinet agreed to send the budget to full council for final approval, Cllr Peter Heydon said: “We are in a period of uncertainty and once again I believe the budget is prudent.

“Overall we have managed to keep our books well balanced. The huge contribution from the transformation programme and further efficiencies from within the council itself, we will propose to full council that we increase council tax by 2.99 per cent as supported by Mrs Temperton, but this will also maintain our position as one of the lowest charging unitary authorities in the country.

“But I have to stress, none of our frontline services have been reduced as a consequence.”

Full council is set to approve the authority’s budget for the 2019/2020 year at a meeting on Wednesday, February 27.