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Council approves £10m cuts

Children's centres to close and council tax to rise after crucial budget vote last night

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886632

Council approves £10m cuts

THERE will be council tax rises, redundancies and devastating cuts to public services after West Berkshire Council overwhelming approved plans to cut £10m from its 2016/17 budget.

It means that four children’s centres and one care home will close, while the cost of 40 CCTV cameras and two public toilets will be transferred to town and parish councils.

Funding for public transport, roads maintenance and home to school transport will be reduced, while car parking charges across the district will also rise.

There will also be huge reductions in the amount of funding the council provides for organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Council leader Roger Croft said the decision to accept the proposals was made with “a heavy heart”, but told his fellow councillors there was simply “no alternative”.

He added: “None of us got into politics to cut services.”

Before the meeting, campaigners had demonstrated outside the council’s Market Street offices (see video below), holding up banners and placards urging a rethink of the proposals.

Hilary Cole, the council’s portfolio holder for housing and leisure, said during the meeting: “Never in my imaginings did I ever think I would be stood here presenting these proposals.

"We are not heartless. We do realise the impact it will have on our residents. There's been a lot of heart and soul searching on this."

The council’s deputy leader, Graham Jones added: “I have never been in such a difficult meeting where we are going to make such difficult decisions."

A public consultation is underway on the second round of cuts proposals, which includes closing eight of the district’s nine libraries and slashing funding for theatres and buses.

The consultation will close on March 7 and the proposals voted on by full council on March 24.

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