Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pounds 60m Cuts Fear; GOVERNMENT CUTS LEAVE COUNCIL FACING HOLE IN BUDGET

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pounds 60m Cuts Fear; GOVERNMENT CUTS LEAVE COUNCIL FACING HOLE IN BUDGET

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN PEARSON

A MASSIVE series of cuts will be forced onto Gateshead Council as bosses reveal a pounds 60m budget blackhole.

Council leaders have put together a "worst case scenario" report as they prepare for a huge drop in the amount of cash the Government gives them to spend.

Now the axe is hanging over everything from the Gateshead Flower Show to library branches and elderly care services. Councillors have not ruled out job losses, which would amount to hundreds of redundancies, or a big rise in council tax to fix the budget.

The next three years will see the council lose anywhere up to pounds 60m as the Government looks to cut the amount it hands to local authorities.

An emergency 'hit list' has been drawn up looking at where the cuts could be land, and council bosses say they want residents to help them decide which departments will lose out.

In a 54-page list Gateshead Council looks at every penny it will spend between next year and 2013, and warns nothing is safe.

Transport costs for disabled or vulnerable adults could be increased, the Quaylink bus withdrawn and maintenance cash for the Millennium Bridge reduced to the bare minimum.

Bin collections will be looked at again, with catch-up collections after bank holidays stopped, raising the threat of fortnightly collections coming to Gateshead.

Libraries are also for the chop as councillors look for easy money-saving measures.

Liberal Democrat councillors in Gateshead have warned residents they will be picking up the bill for the Government's multi-billion pound bank rescue.

Councillor Ron Beadle said the cuts were down to the Government holding back money to pay for the recession.

He said: "We as a council are facing a problem without precedent, certainly a level of trouble not seen since the days of Thatcher. …

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