RESIDENTS have been warned of difficult times ahead as councillors approved its budget which includes £16.2 million worth of cuts.

The financial plan for 2014/15 was unanimously approved by the council on Monday night.

But Clr Russ Bowden, executive board member for resources and assignments, said it was not an easy task having to deal with ever declining budget levels.

Since 2010 there has been a reduction of £74 million in council spending power alone and this year the cuts are the equivalent of £32 per person added Clr Bowden.

Council tax will rise by 1.98 per cent.

He said: “Last year I said we came to the end of salami slicing and that’s born out by this budget for the first time we are simply looking at stopping doing things the council has done.

“There is no simple answer to some of these cuts, it means radical change.

“There will be cuts to funding to some of our valued partners in the town. Regardless of how we value them we can’t continue funding them at the level we have done.”

Among the savings being made is funding towards Warrington Dial-A-Ride, reduce funding for activities for disabled children and young people and increasing cremation charges.

But the council is still looking to invest in schemes it says will offer future income and revenue including green schemes such as more energy efficient street lighting, a £2 million home energy efficiency scheme and funding for commercial energy schemes which could generate more business rates being kept in the town’s coffers.

There are also plans for £40 million to be invested in highways from 2015 onwards.

Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Clr Peter Walker said his party would back the budget but with reservations over what he called a £100,000 executive initiative fund.

He called on that money to be spent on tackling highways and footpaths and restoring a £25,000 cut to CSOs.

He said: “A budget should never include an allocation of money without saying how it will be spent or what contingency it covers.

“Using this fund, we would restore the budget cut for CSOs. We all value the work they do and it represents a reduction of two officers and contradicts the stated ambition of the administration to make our town safer.

“Also we would put an additional £57,000 into the pot for repairing our highways and footpaths.

“Warrington’s roads get worse by the week. We welcome the major capital investment for 2015/16 but wonder why more cannot be spent in this financial year.”

Conservative leader Clr Paul Kennedy also added his backing to the budget but urged caution on the plans for loaning council funds to outside sources - which will be done through a treasury management committee.

He added: "It is a great responsibility spending taxpayers money. We must always remember careless spending has a huge reputational cost."