THERE was little protest last night (Mar 3) as Greenwich councillors unanimously agreed a £48.6m cut to the council’s budget.

But, after launching into a lengthy rundown of his council’s achievements, leader Councillor Chris Roberts warned the budget had “a ticking time bomb under it”.

He said that government policies would raise pressures in the borough on housing, police and unemployment.

The £48.6m cuts, agreed at cabinet meeting in recent months, will be made over the next two years.

A further reduction, bringing total savings of £63m, will be agreed at a future budget meeting.

Cllr Roberts, who blamed bankers for the cuts, told the council that reductions had been made without closing libraries, leisure centres or Sure Start branches.

He admitted price rises to allotment charges and parking permits would cause “some concern” but said: “We don’t seek to raise these charges by the level we have out of choice.”

And he said a incremental pay freeze, being forced through despite union opposition, was essential to protect jobs and services.

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Councillor Spencer Drury said his group broadly accepted the budget and that any disagreements were just “quibbling round the edges”.

But he suggested outsourcing the council’s Cleansweep service, which is being allocated an extra £1m.

Speeches from the chamber mainly focused on the national situation but there were some crumbs of comfort for supporters of Maryon Wilson Animal Park who had earlier delivered their petition containing 3,000 signatures against cuts to its funding.

Cllr Roberts confirmed that no cuts would be made to the park’s funding this year, saying: “We don’t want to see the animal park close next March and I don’t believe it will.

“But if it is loved as much as people tell us then we will want to work with those who are willing to see how we can help to keep it open.”

Friends of Maryon Wilson Park chairman Tim Anderson said afterwards: “I think there was a little bit of movement on Cllr Roberts’ commitment to finding alternatives.

“But we’re disappointed they didn’t listen to our petition.”

Mr Anderson said the campaign to keep the funding was likely to carry on.