UNEXPECTED costs have hammered a £3.2m hole in Swindon Council’s coffers.

As calculations continue for what councillors are calling ‘an extremely difficult budget’ the Adver has uncovered figures that show Swindon Council will have to find an extra £3.2m in unexpected costs.

The cost of being greener will contribute to the bill, with a hole of around £500,000 coming from the difficulty in selling on recyclable materials.

As revealed in the Adver last week the council has a paper mountain in excess of 1,700 tonnes housed at its Waterside depot.

There is also an increased landfill tax of £296,000 because the council failed to meet its target of recycling 50 per cent of waste.

The slowdown in the construction industry will also hit the council.

A collapse in the number of planning applications has led to a £330,000 loss of income and there is also £330,000 extra from land charges, which includes business rates.

Other costs include a £1m increase in utility bills, £300,000 from the fall in interest rates and £232,000 on operating the concessionary bus pass scheme.

Coun Nick Martin is the cabinet member for resources and the man with the job of pulling together next year’s budget.

He said: “Obviously there are all sorts of escalating costs that we have to deal with when putting together the budget but these are changes that we weren’t expecting.

“Part of the problem is simply that people aren’t spending as much money.

“So as a council we are getting less income. But there are also areas, such as the concessionary bus passes, where it is a Government scheme which we have to pay out for.

“We are not an irresponsible council. We did put money aside for a rainy day but over the last year it has taken an absolute hammering.

“All councils will be affected by what is going on at the moment but because we are on the borderline in terms of funding we are feeling it worse than many others.

We have always prided ourselves as a council on having council tax rises starting with a ‘three’, but this year is going to be a lot more difficult than usual.”