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Proposed public service cuts to be decided on at West Berkshire Council meeting in March

More than 1,500 residents air their views during public consultation

Chris Ord

Reporter:

Chris Ord

Email:

chris.ord@newburynews.co.uk

West Berkshire Council logo

THE planned cuts to public services which the council hopes will help save £10.8million in the next financial year will be discussed at a meeting on February 11, before being decided on by the full council three weeks later.


More than 1,500 people put their views to the council on the planned cuts as the six-week consultation period came to a close on Monday.

Residents were given the chance to tell the council how they would be affected by 47 proposals which would see CCTV cameras, children’s services, rural buses and libraries, as well as other services, affected.

The proposed budget for 2016/17 together with the consultation report will now be discussed by councillors at a meeting of the executive committee on February 11.

Their recommendation will then be put to the full council at a meeting on March 1, 2016 with both meetings taking place at the council's Market Street offices in Newbury.

Council leader Roger Croft, said: “Up to this point these have simply been proposals we're considering but we're now at a point where some firm decisions have to be made.

"There are no easy solutions and it is inevitable that at the end of the process some people will be left disappointed.

“However, with £10.8m of savings to be found next year the council is left having to make some tough decisions about what it can and can't do in future years.”

Newbury residents had also been given a chance to have their say on the cuts that would directly impact them with the town council holding their own consultation.

Of the 47 cuts proposed by the district council three directly affect the town council – the switching off of CCTV cameras, and the loss of both public toilets and the visitor information centre.

The responses received showed that 80 per cent of respondents wish to retain CCTV services, two thirds would keep the toilets and just over half would save the visitor information centre.

Leader of Newbury Town Council David Goff said: “We understand the financial challenges facing West Berkshire District Council as they seek to find savings of £11m in 2016-17, but the town council has very limited resources.

“However, we are prepared to work with the district council to explore all options to retain important public services for the people of Newbury.”

Meanwhile the proposed cuts across the district have been slammed by the West Berkshire branch of Unison who claim the most vulnerable people in the district will be the ones most affected.

In a statement the trade union said: “A disproportionate number of the cuts will fall on the most vulnerable in our communities – children and families in need of support, people with disabilities and the elderly.

“Those whose quality of life is to a large extent dependent – and in some cases wholly reliant – upon support from the council will see it being eroded.

“Inequalities between the less fortunate and wider society will widen as a result.”

Councillor’s decision to award themselves a 16.5 per cent allowance increase earlier this year was also heavily criticised with Unison calling the move “innapropriate and insensitive”.

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