BOSSES at Bradford Council have gone back to the drawing board on major cuts planned for local libraries, youth services and community centres.
Amended proposals to close a £61.5m gap in Bradford Council's budget by 2018 were put forward by the local authority's Executive today, after hundreds of people voiced their concerns in a public consultation.
Under the adjusted proposals, council tax would rise by the maximum of 1.99 per cent a year instead of the planned 1.6 per cent, with the extra £600,000 raised being used to soften the blow of a host of cuts to local services.
There would also be an extra two per cent levy to raise money for adult social care, bringing the overall rise to 3.99 per cent.
This would see a Band D household paying £1,198.08 in council tax this year, an increase of about £46 on last year.
Council leader Councillor David Green said he empathised with people facing higher council tax bills.
He said: "But the bottom line is we recognise that the government is expecting local people to pay more for less.
"As a local authority that actually has listened to the views being expressed in the consultation, we felt we had no choice other than to react to that consultation and the only way we could finance that in any sustainable manner would be to look to increase the proposed level of council tax."
Bradford Council's Labour leadership had consulted on plans to turn all but seven of its libraries into volunteer-run facilities or close them if no volunteers came forward - a move which prompted a huge public outcry.
Meanwhile, proposed cuts to youth services would reduce by £70,000 under the amended proposals, to retain a district-wide information service.
Community facilities which get subsidised rents in Council-owned buildings had been facing rent hikes, but now these planned savings will be reduced by 50 per cent, or £150,000.
There will also be a three-month review of the facilities getting council support, to check it is going to the best places.
And proposed new annual charges for green waste collection would be priced at £35 rather than £40, with a 20 per cent discount offered for early take-up.
But there has been no change to plans to move to fortnightly general waste collections, a host of savings in adult social care budgets and cuts to police community support officers.
The council will use £11.4m of its dwindling reserves in 2016-17, but will still face a budget shortfall of £7.6m, with more savings having to be found throughout the year.
Tariq Karamat, who has led the fight to save Laisterdyke library and spoke at the Executive, said afterwards that he was "more than proud" to have helped force a re-think.
But Mary Winter, of the Thorpe Edge Community Project, who had spoken movingly about the potential impact of the cuts on local people in need, said she still had grave concerns about the future viability of community groups.
The opposition Conservative group is yet to reveal its alternative budget proposals, ahead of a meeting on Thursday where the budget will be finalised.
Conservative leader Councillor Simon Cooke said he welcomed the easing of cuts to the voluntary and community sector, but said he still had fears that a move to fortnightly waste collections would lead to an increase in fly-tipping.
And he accused the Labour Executive of playing politics in its cuts to libraries, pointing out that the libraries saved from the chop at Wibsey, Wyke and Laisterdyke were all in Labour areas.
He said: "We are seeing one rule for one part of the district and another rule for another."
The Liberal Democrat group is also finalising its own budget proposals.
Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said she was dismayed that a proposal to swap 15-minute welfare checks on the elderly with a phone call instead had not been scrapped.
She said: "We have got a different set of priorities.
"What stuns me is that they have cut millions out of the adult social care budget, but because people complain in numbers about libraries, we have decided to support libraries."