'We have listened to protests' - Bradford Council re-think on budget proposals

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Protests about cuts in youth services were listened to by the Council Protests about cuts in youth services were listened to by the Council

The political group which runs Bradford Council has heard voters’ protests and found cash in the attic to save threatened services including children’s centres, public toilets and a plan to cut opening times at waste recycling sites across the district.

David Green, the leader of the Labour-run authority, will present an amended budget to a special meeting of the full Council on Thursday which includes a dramatic reduction in the amount of cash to be cut from youth services.

Coun Green said close examination had found extra money in Council bank accounts which meant the pain of Government cuts could be temporarily eased a little further.

And he praised the public for making it plain where the Council should prioritise its spending.

At a meeting of the executive yesterday, he said: “This is a Council and an executive that listens and we have been listening to people’s concerns about out draft budget proposal.

“When we put the budget out to consultation, we said it would be meaningful and we have listened to people.

“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.”

Coun Green explained that as well as increased efficiencies some of the extra money had be discovered by scrutinising stalled Council projects where money had been allotted, but was not being spent.

He 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 30 per cent of its budget 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.

He said: “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 they have 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 over 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.”

  • Council tax is set to rise by an average of £3 a month as a result of a 1.6 per cent increase across Bradford if Labour’s budget is approved.

The executive’s amended budget includes:

  • Public Toilets - the withdrawal of proposal to close facilities at Haworth Central Park, Baildon Northgate and Ikley Riverside.
  • Children’s Centres – Maintain status quo for the next 12 months and work on proposals for savings in the following year.
  • Waste Sites – withdrawal of proposal to cut opening times at household waste and recycling sites.
  • Youth services – a reduction in proposed cuts from £3.2m to £1.45m from total budget which means 36 per cent cuts instead of suggested 80 per cent.
  • Free City bus – scheme will continue for another year.
  • Libraries - Mobile libraries will go, but home delivery service to continue at a reduced level.
  • Police Community Support Workers – to continue at same level for two years, thanks to money from West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

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