3rd Dec, 2016

Services and jobs could be lost over county council budget cuts

Leamington Editorial 29th Sep, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

ALREADY stretched services could be lost completely on the back of huge council budget cuts.

That is the stark warning from Leamington councillor Jonathan Chilvers after Warwickshire County Council bosses announced they must save an extra £67million over the next three years.

Council services had already been hit hard by the last round of cuts to government grants, which saw the need to save £92 million by 2018.

As the two budget cuts overlap, it means a combined total of £139 million needs to be saved.

It will almost certainly lead to cuts to services and some may have to go completely while some 300 council jobs could also be lost.

Leamington Green Party County Councillor Jonathan Chilvers told the Observer: “These new proposed £67m cuts to council funding from government means no service is safe.

“Road repairs, recycling centres, libraries, social services, older people care, children’s centres and the fire service will all be in the spotlight. Services had already been cut to the bone, now the council will be choosing which limbs to hack off.”

Council leader Izzi Seccombe says more difficult decisions will have to be made after an already tough period of cuts to the council budget.

She said: “We have always been open about the scale of challenges facing the council. At the heart of our decision making have been the key principles of fairness, equality and providing the best services we can for those who need them most.

“We now need to identify further savings over the next three years. This £67 million arises from reductions in government grants, inflation and additional demographic pressures.

“This means shaping the future of a very different county council and different public service provision in Warwickshire by 2020.

“Everything we do is on behalf of and impacts on the people of Warwickshire and we need to have a conversation with people about their priorities, hopes and fears, challenges and ambitions.”

Councillors plan to talk to residents about the most valued services before the budget is set next February. They will also be talking to staff about how the cuts will affect their positions.

Coun Seccombe added: “We will be talking to our staff about how this might affect them and how we can work together to deliver services differently in the future.

“We will also be going to talk to people around the county, we want to open up a conversation with our communities – to talk about the scale of the issues we face.

“We need to know what people value. By taking these difficult decisions and investing in the future, I am confident that we will meet this challenge and be successful in making Warwickshire the best it can be.”