'No pleasure' for council in its budget full of cuts in bid to save £62m
DERBY'S Labour party says it will not "recommend" its budget proposals for 2013-14 and 2014-15 at the authority's next full council meeting tomorrow.
Council leader Paul Bayliss said his party did not want to put the figures forward for the final go-ahead – as they include cuts in funding across the authority – but it must be done.
He said the council needed to save £62 million over the next three years in the face of cuts to its grant from Government, inflation and the city's growing population.
He said: "We will be moving the budget rather than 'recommending' it to council. It gives us no pleasure to be doing this."
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The Tory opposition have called some elements of the budget – such as new charges for brown bin collections and grassing over seasonal flower beds – "spiteful".
In a letter to Mr Bayliss, Conservative Group leader Philip Hickson says the budget "illustrates a clear inability and unwillingness to fairly deal with the financial position Derby City faces" and it is "simply not good enough to blame the proposals you have included in your budget on the Government".
Mr Hickson said his party was set to propose amendments to the budget on Wednesday, likely to include scrapping plans to remove three-hour free parking in city car parks for some disabled drivers.
They may also propose a U-turn in the plans for the brown bin charges and on the stopping of funding for Wild Derby, which supports 12 groups across the city that help look after green spaces.
But Labour enjoys a majority in the council chamber – 28 councillors to the Tories' 14 and Liberal Democrat's nine – so the prospects of opposition success look bleak.
If the budget is voted through, there will be positive aspects – a £264 million capital programme for new developments, including £54 million for a new 50-metre swimming pool and multi-sports arena – among them.
But Mr Bayliss said the budget, which also includes estimated figures for 2015-16, was one of "forced austerity" due to the Government grant cuts.
The council's savings target for 2013-14 is £20.1million, for 2014-15 £23.3 million, and the estimated total for 2015-16 is £18.8 million.
By far the biggest part of the budget is dedicated to the children and young people's service, which covers the learning and education of pupils in Derby schools, support for special educational needs and also safeguarding vulnerable youngsters.
The total budget for the service is more than £220 million, with £183 million of that for schools.
The council can keep a percentage of the £183 million for central education services, such as support staff, but this amount has been falling as more schools become academies and receive their budgets direct from Government.
It also means the council cannot make cuts in the portion of the budget relating to schools so it has to concentrate on the part of the budget not related to schools. It wants to save £5 million overall from the children and young people's service.
Here, by council department, is how the budget would affect people in the city:
ADULTS, HEALTH AND HOUSING
Funding for "housing-related services" such as hostels and advice would be slashed from the £3.8 million provided this year to £1.8 million by March 31, 2015.
This would hit organisations like the Padley Group, which might have to close its 10-bed hostel in Becket Street, and Action Housing And Support, which says the cut in its funding would have a "massive impact" on the number of vulnerable people in the city it helps find jobs and get homes.
Spending on the council's Housing Options service would drop by 25%, or £111,000, by March 31, 2015.
Councillor Baggy Shanker, cabinet member for housing and advice, said he feared this would lead to delays in people being found social housing.
Carers would see a cut in the number of one-off grants for things that help them carry out their role. This can include cash for things like holidays, gym membership and internet access.
Councillor Fareed Hussain, cabinet member for adult care, has warned the funding for the grants may go completely by 2015.
Cash for "preventative support around dementia" would be cut by £201,000 by 2015-16. Mr Hussain said this could involve cuts to awareness and training work.
Voluntary groups which help the elderly such as luncheon clubs, voluntary shopping schemes and groups which provide the isolated with company, would have their funding cut by £460,000. Mr Hussain said some could fold.
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
£80,000 will be saved with the removal of a counselling service run by charity Relate.
£124,000 would be taken from parent support programmes run in children's centres and by the charity Nacro but the council is hoping that the Government's Priority Families programme will be able to supply funds to make up some of the shortfall.
Action for Children's £144,000 contract to help families in distress would end and the work passed to the council's social services locality teams, adding to their workload.
The reduction of one £40,000 education welfare worker would mean schools picking up the tasks they normally undertake.
A review of youth provision would save £130,000 by holding sessions at centres at new times and by the use of the voluntary sector.
£200,000 would be saved as the responsibility for careers advice and guidance passes to schools later this year.
Plans are already under way to close The Space on The Spot, which acts as a one-stop shop for young people to get advice.
Statutory services, such as contraceptive advice, would be moved to other council buildings to save £250,000 by 2014-15.
The Chesapeake Family Centre in Chaddesden, where estranged families can meet on neutral ground, would close and its services transferred to other centres in the city, saving £85,000. People may have to travel further for the service.
Changes to the way therapeutic services are delivered at the council's centre in Leopold Street and a widening of the service to sell to other local authorities would save £100,000.
The council is still expecting to save £500,000 through its new £32 million refurbished Council House. It was unable to say yesterday how this would happen.
Derby Live, the city council's entertainment arm, must cut 10%, about £90,000, of its budget, by 2014-15.
Director Peter Ireson has vowed to "protect its programme whenever possible". Prices for its events will be reviewed.
There would be no budget for maintaining street name plates from 2014-15, to save £21,000.
A £75,000 budget for street lighting schemes in 2013-14 would be removed.
The council said this was money outside its PFI contract for "routine maintenance, repairs, new and replacement posts".
Pets corner at Allestree Park would close in February or March to save £25,000. The park's Friends group fought to save it in 2008.
Charges on overdue library books would be introduced for Gold Card holders in 2013-14.
All adult borrowers would be billed for requesting books not immediately available.
Three-hour free parking for "lower rate" mobility allowance Blue Badge holders would be removed from 2014-15 to save £80,000.
The council had initially proposed removing the three hours of free parking for all holders of the passes but this was changed after the public consultation on the budget.
Public toilets at the Ashbourne Road entrance of Markeaton Park, and in Nottingham Road, would be shut by the end of March to save an annual £55,000 in upkeep costs.
City council flower beds in parks and on traffic islands would be grassed over to save £88,000 in 2013-14 and another £21,000 in 2014-15.
Hanging baskets owned by the council would also go, to save £35,000 from April 1.
The council would stop funding closed-circuit TV cameras either by finding "financial contributions from partners" or ending the service altogether.
It was unable to give further details on this yesterday.
The road safety budget, including money for training, education and campaigns, would be cut by £145,000 over the next two years.
The authority would also reduce its funding for the county's Road Safety Partnership from £85,000 to £60,000.
The role of neighbourhood wardens may change so they would go into schools and groups to talk about road safety.
Funding to Wild Derby, an organisation which supports the city's 12 Friends groups that help the council look after its open spaces, would be stopped.
The council would continue paying for the volunteers' indemnity insurance so they could continue working.
The council would bring in a fee of £40 per year from 2014 for households wanting brown bins collected. Additional bins would cost £20 each.
It also aims to save £500,000 by collecting all recyclable waste in one single blue bin.
Officers believe these changes to household recycling would lead to a final saving of £1.7 million.
Parking charges would again be revised at Markeaton Park, which recently won £2.5 million of National Lottery funding towards improvements. No details of what this could mean for charges are yet available.
The city's "mechanical" street-sweeping service will be reduced by 50%.
The council had planned to save £20,000 from passing maintenance of its cricket pitches over to their users but this will no longer go ahead.
An £82,000 saving planned from doing the same with bowling green maintenance will now be "reviewed".