COUNCIL leaders are gearing themselves for crunch budget talks this week after a public consultation revealed potential library closures and cuts to adult and children's services topped people's fears for the next two years.
The authority's executive meets on Tuesday to finalise its financial plans for 2016/17 and 2017/18, ahead of the proposals being confirmed at a full Council meeting on Thursday.
The Council faces having to find £53 million in savings or additional income by 2017/18, with 641 full-time equivalent jobs set to be lost.
Public consultation on the proposals began at the end of last year, and by February 12, 813 submissions had been made, raising 1,106 concerns against the budget.
Petitions have also been submitted against proposals to close libraries, cuts to youth service provision, a reduction in community development workers, and the de-commissioning of financial and welfare advice services.
The highest number of submissions, about 115, related to the potential closure of libraries.
The second and third highest were focused on cuts to youth services and the cumulative impact of the budget proposals on vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled, highlighting proposals such as turning off street lights and a 20 per cent decrease in winter gritting.
Consultees also voiced fears that voluntary groups and sports clubs would be put at severe risk of closure due to proposed rate reductions, and that alternate weekly bin collections would lead to overflowing bins in streets and an increase in fly-tipping.
The proposals put out to consultation were designed to save about £17.7m in 2016/17, and a further £24.4m in 2017/18.
The 2016/17 budget is based on total available resources of £377.6m, but the Council's projections for its 2017/18 and 2018/19 budgets show a deficit of £7.9m and £28.3m respectively.
Feedback from the public consultation suggested that the Council should consider reducing the number and expenses of elected members, curb the salaries of senior managers, and introduce stricter enforcement of council tax and fines to reduce the impact on front-line staff, who consultees said had a "critical role to play in supporting vulnerable people."
In a joint statement, the unions Unison, GMB, and Unite said the Council should avoid setting its budget this week as a lack of detail on its proposals had rendered a proper consultation over potential job losses "impossible".
In a joint statement the unions said: "It is with deep regret we are reaching a position to advise the local authority that we are nearing the point of a dispute.
"The question has been put to management by all trade unions as to why we are employing so many agency workers, temporary staff, and consultants at premium cost to the authority, when massive financial cuts and possible compulsory redundancies are being proposed."
Bradford Council leader, Councillor David Green, who labelled the budget proposals "gut-wrenching" when first announced in November, said: "Over my years as leader, we have always tried to reflect any concerns raised in consultations.
"We will be spending the next 24 hours examining the results of the consultation and looking again at the books to see if there is any room to accommodate the views of people across the district."
Conservative group leader, Councillor Simon Cooke, said his party shared residents' concerns on issues such as library closures and bin collections.
"We are particularly worried about cuts to business rates for voluntary groups, as many face going to the wall," he said.
"The Council has finally started to look at ways of shared working, but we should be a lot further down that road."
Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, was not available for comment.