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Public protests spare more cuts across Keighley district
7:00am Thursday 20th February 2014 in Keighley
Council bosses have listened to public protests and found cash to save threatened services including toilets, children’s centres and waste recycling sites across the district.
Leader Councillor David Green presented amended budget recommendations on behalf of his ruling Labour group – which also included a dramatic reduction in the amount of cash to be cut from youth services.
But a proposed council tax increase of 1.6 per cent is being recommended.
Coun Green said close examination had found spare money in council bank accounts that meant the pain of Government cuts could be temporarily eased a little more.
And he praised the public for making it plain where the council should prioritise spending.
“This is a council and an executive that listens, and we have been listening to people’s concerns about our draft budget proposals.
“When we put the budget out to consultation, we said it would be meaningful and we have listened to people,“ Coun Green said.
“We have managed to find some additional funding, but not everything. And that money has not been found painlessly.
“New efficiencies by and large means losing jobs, and we are looking at losing some 600 jobs from those working for Bradford Council.”
He explained that as well as increased efficiencies, some of the extra money had been discovered by scrutinising stalled council projects where cash had been allotted but was not being spent.
Coun Green said that in future there needed to be an improved method of sorting out budgets by which council spending would be viewed as a whole, rather than just by departments.
And he said the district needed to protect itself from government cuts or “the whim of a Chancellor” by increasing the amount of cash raised within its boundaries.
Only a relatively small amount of income – just 30 per cent – comes from council tax, compared to an average of 40 per cent achieved by other councils.
Coun Green said although, for example, £4 million from the Schools Forum would now keep children’s centres open for another year, changes were inevitable.
And he declared Bradford, along with other northern cities, is bearing the brunt of Government austerity measures.
He added: “We have repeatedly warned the Government of the inevitable consequences of continuing to impose disproportionate cuts on councils, particularly in northern towns and cities, but it has not listened and we face the bleak prospect of more cuts to local services that people rely on.
“More cuts mean we have to find another £115 million during the next three years – cuts like these mean the council will have to change beyond recognition. Jobs will be lost and the impact will be felt across the whole economy.”.
The amended savings proposals, approved by the Labour-controlled executive committee on Tuesday, will go before the full council today.