Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Spending Cuts to Hit Services

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Spending Cuts to Hit Services

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY MCKENZIE MIDDLESBROUGH Council has drawn up a catalogue of cuts as it looks to save pounds 6.8m.

The measures will hit services from grass-cutting to museum opening hours, town-twinning to the Transporter Bridge.

Increased charges for council services and long stay parking are also being proposed.

More than 100 workers are already set to leave the authority under early retirement or voluntary redundancy as part of the council's efforts to cut spending.

The council is facing a pounds 15.2m reduction this year in its revenue spending power.

It also has to cope with additional pressures, such as having to provide more than pounds 3m to cover inflation.

An extra pounds 2.3m is needed to support children and young people, while an additional pounds 750,000 is to be allocated to meet demand for services for the elderly.

The authority must make cuts of pounds 50m over the next four years.

But some relief has come in the form of its contribution to the Teesside Pension Fund, which will be reduced in the coming year by pounds 1.3m.

Similar savings will also be made by the other Teesside councils as the fund continues to be among the country's best performing local government funds.

Additional spending has also been allocated to maintain some services, including: * pounds 40,000 (pounds 60,000 in a full year) to maintain the Teen Mover concessionary travel scheme for 16 to 19 year olds which came under threat with the ending of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund; * pounds 50,000 to keep a reduced provision of the popular summer play schemes; * pounds 50,000 in assistance to the voluntary sector to deal with the impact on voluntary organisation of reduced Government funding. The cash will help organisations change to meet reduced funding; * pounds 83,000 to maintain a local advice service on housing and council tax benefits; * pounds 5,000 to maintain for a time council tax payment facilities at the Erimus Office in Thorntree while appropriate Allpay provision is made in the area.

A previous public consultation threw up ideas including cutting the pounds 17,145 annual cost of the Big Screen in Centre Square, further savings on accommodation costs, and more joint working with neighbouring authorities. …

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