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Last chance to have your say on council's £10m cuts

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Proposals include charging for garden waste collection and reducing funding for vulnerable people

THERE are just five days left to have your say on how you will be affected by West Berkshire Council’s plan to cut funding to public services and start charging for garden waste collections.

Council tax is also set to rise for the third successive year as the cash-strapped authority looks to make savings of £10m next year.

The majority of the money will be found internally, through retendering contracts and making eight positions redundant.

However, around £1m is proposed to come directly from cuts to services.

This includes charging residents for garden waste collections – a service that is currently free.

The annual subscription would be £50 per household – which works out at less than £2 per week.

The council says that more than half of local authorities already charge for this service and the proposal would generate around £900,000 a year.

However, 90 per cent of the 1,500 people who responded to a poll on the Newbury Weekly News website, NewburyToday, said they wouldn’t be prepared to pay the £50. And more than 100 people have left comments on the issue on the Newburytoday Facebook page, overwhelmingly negative.

Another proposal is a huge cut to funding for Citizens Advice West Berkshire by a third next year, from £120,000 to £40,000. For more details about this proposal, see page 6.

The council is also proposing to stop sending planning application notices directly to nearby properties to save around £17,500 a year.

Orange site notices will continue to be clearly displayed in the vicinity of all planning application sites.

The council has been forced to find the money to combat a reduction in central government funding.

No decision or proposal about council tax increases has been made, but if council tax does not go up, money will have to be found from elsewhere.

For the last two years it has gone up by 3.99 per cent each year.

West Berkshire Council leader Graham Jones said: “Every year our communities are asking more from the services we provide, but we are receiving less money to provide those services.

“Our priority has been to protect those services which support the most vulnerable people in our communities but it’s inevitable that there will be an impact on some other services.

“It’s important we give communities the chance to tell us how they will be impacted and what might be done to alleviate the impact of any decisions before we decide how to proceed.”

A public consultation on the proposals is open until Wednesday, January 10.

Details can be found online at www.westberks.gov.uk/budgetproposals

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