Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cuts and Tax Rise Proposed to Tackle Huge Cash Deficit

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cuts and Tax Rise Proposed to Tackle Huge Cash Deficit

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Blackburn Stockton Senior reporter

TWO libraries could close and services such as street cleaning face PS650,000 of cuts as Stockton Council tries to fill a PS73m budget black hole.

Households in the borough also face a near 2% council tax rise for the third year running.

As reported last month, residents were warned to expect deeper cuts after the authority was told to expect a PS21m reduction in central funding for the next four years, instead of the PS15m initially anticipated.

Stockton faces total annual reductions of PS73m by 2019/20 - a reduction of 61%.

Staff numbers at the council have already reduced by more than 800 over the last six years since the start of the savings programme.

And yesterday council chiefs con-firmed staff numbers are likely to fall by a further 400 over the next four years.

Meanwhile reviews of frontline services are ongoing and affect libraries, Care For Your Area, environmental health and trading standards, community transport, and children's centres.

Proposed cutbacks include: | closing Egglescliffe Library once the refurbishment of Yarm Library is complete | seeking a partner to co-locate with Fairfield Library but propose to close it if none can be found | PS650,000 of savings in Care For Your Area services such as grass cutting and street cleaning, and reducing the number of planted areas by replacing them with low maintenance schemes | In environmental health and trading standards, reduce some outof-hours enforcement services and introduce charging for some aspects of pest control, which would save PS230,000 per year | a review of community transport policies with a focus on home to school transport services and the transport provided for adult social care users and carers | review of the "role, purpose and delivery model" for the 12 children's centres in the borough Council Leader Councillor Bob Cook said: "As part of the reviews, we'll be consulting with residents and service users and we'll be sticking to the principle that we will target services to the areas or people in most need. …

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