by timpickstone on 4 December, 2012
The Council has produced an update on the savings it proposes to make over the next two years. Because of a number of changes it now estimates that it needs to save an extra Â£8.7 Million, which is on top of the Â£17.7 million that was included in its current three year plan for savings.
The full copy of the paper is here, but there are a number of proposals that are worth highlighting:
By far the largest area of savings or cuts are to ‘Support for Vulnerable people’ – with these new announcements these savings almost triple to to nearly Â£4,000,000 â€“ mostly this is care for older people, but also includes more cuts to Childrenâ€™s Centres and home to school travel for children (over Â£1/2 million in total on the latter).
The popular Park Rangers service is being abolished altogether. I know many local people will have benefitted from the work of the Rangers – not least work around the Wetland in Simister.
Other savings include:
– Doing away with free 15 mins parking in the Town Centre, and doing away with free Sunday parking
– Cutting grants to charities by Â£120,000
– Â£820,000 of staff reductions (not filling vacant posts)
– Â£800,000 of changes in terms and conditions to staff (though it is not clear what)
– continued reduction in funding for basic services like street cleaning and repairs
It is easy to just ‘blame the Government’ but I think all of us appreciate that we live in difficult economic times and whichever Party(s) were in Government these sort of savings would need to be made. But local Councils do have choices about what savings they make.
My biggest concerns are:
(a) the very significant savings proposed to support to vulnerable people. The number of older people in Bury rises every year, and at present demand for care services from the council means that this budget is overspending by nearly Â£1 million. The Government has even provided Councils with extra cash to help with these pressures but now Bury is proposing to make Â£4 million in cuts which I believe is cruel.
(b) as local Council Tax payers we all deserve a good basic level of service. Ordinary services like street repair or cleaning, park maintenance, environmental health continue to be cut despite the fact that our roads and pavements are in an appalling state.
What would we do differently?
We believe that it is a shame that the Council has not looked seriously at how it could save money by providing some services jointly with other local councils. Every Council has to provide the same services and at the moment we’re all doing it separately. A few smaller items have been looked at, but nothing significant. We also believe that the Council should review its management structure. Broadly 25% of of discretionary spend is being proposed to be knocked off the budgets, but the Council still has the same number of ‘Directorates’ – each with their own management structure.
Let me know what you think?
Please do not hesitate to let me know what you think about the proposed Council cuts. I know a lot of people have already been in touch about the Park Ranger service which would be a terrible loss – but please let me know what you think.