Olympics feel-good factor has helped culture survive, for now
THE feel-good factor following the Olympics protected Derby's cultural service from even harsher cuts in the city council's draft budget.
But Councillor Martin Repton, cabinet member for leisure and culture, warned it could be more difficult to protect the service in future – following the Government's funding settlement announcement this week.
Derby's Olympic torch events this year included a classical concert in Darley Park, which featured on television coverage across the country.
Mr Repton said: "I think the successful Olympics and the brilliant torch relay saw people enjoying cultural life and people recognised the importance of that, not just the quality-of-life aspect but the inward investment.
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"I believe the cuts could have been even deeper and more damaging were it not for the Olympics this year."
There are still cuts to Derby Live – the council's arts arm – where £90,000 will be taken from the budget due to an early retirement and sponsorship deals.
Pets Corner at Allestree Park will also close under the budget proposals for parks to save £25,000.
Parking charges will again be revised at Markeaton Park, which recently won £2.5 million of National Lottery funding towards improvements.
But it is a different story to last year, when the department bore the brunt of the axe.
Then libraries saw their opening hours cut dramatically and arts organisations were threatened with losing their council support.
Mr Repton said he had retained funding towards groups like Quad and Deda but warned that, because leisure and culture are not services the council has to provide, it is difficult to protect them from cuts when the council is having to deliver vital children's services and adult care.
"All the areas are very vulnerable," he said. "Depending on what Communities Secretary Eric Pickles does, the Labour group may or may not want to come back again and look at non-statutory services – and my own area may be in the frame."
Mr Repton also made it clear that, while the budget has been drafted for the next two years, the service would be under threat in 2015.
During the next three years, the council has to save £62.4 million with more than £20 million of savings needing to be made in the year from April 2013.
Mr Repton said: "In 2015, we go off the edge of a cliff and we will have to look to see how we can protect these services.
"Parks, libraries, Derby Live and sport are playing an important part in the quality of people's lives and I have always regarded them as the glue that binds together a civilised society. Without these we would be a poorer city in every respect."
The first cuts
THE main headline cuts to leisure and culture include:
£90,000 in 2014-15 to Derby Live's budget.
Restructuring the sport and active recreation team to save £53,000 in 2013-14, equating to the loss of three full-time posts.
Review of car parking charges at Markeaton Park to save £40,000 in 2013-14.
Restructuring the support services at libraries to save £77,000 in 2013-14.