Tough Decisions Put Forward By Redditch Executive
Published date: 08 February 2017
Published date: 08 February 2017
Redditch Borough Councillors will face some tough decisions as recommendations to cut and charge for some services will come before them later this month.
At last night’s Executive Meeting Members considered how they could save £2.8m over the next four years.
They agreed to put forward surrendering interest in the Kingsley and Arrow Vale leisure centres and to look at moving towards an alternative arrangement for leisure provision which may include a trust model.
Cllr Pat Witherspoon, whose portfolio covers Leisure, said: “We are not taking these decisions lightly but, rather in light of the relentless cuts to our funding, are considering how we can continue to provide first class fitness and leisure facilities to our residents.
“By surrendering our interest in Kingsley and Arrow Valley Sports Centres we would save £169,000 which we can continue to invest in our facilities and assets across the borough.
“By considering a different operation to run services like the Palace Theatre, Abbey Stadium, Community Centres, Forge Mill and Pitcheroak Golf Course, not only would we potentially save £400,000 to support services within the community, but we would ensure the jewels in Redditch’s crown continue to shine for years to come.
“In these times of austerity we cannot be sentimental but rest assured we will put forward what we believe is the best for Redditch, its residents and its assets.”
Charging for Shopmobility, which currently costs the Council £69,000 a year, alongside the withdrawal of funding for the current free pre-9.30 bus travel, which costs £85,000 a year were also recommended. Members requested officers to explore options to mitigate the impact of these funding reductions.
Whilst the report to Executive included these items as savings, Members decided to keep free swimming, retain elections by thirds and funding for community events including the Bonfire, Morton Stanley Festival and Street Theatre. External funding for the Christmas lights will be sought over the next three years.
The decision, which includes releasing £431k from balances over the next four years, will be made following recommendations to full Council on 20th February where a Council Tax increase of £5, for Band D properties, will also be discussed.
Council Leader Bill Hartnett said: “Like all local Councils we have been hit very hard by cuts to the New Homes Bonus Scheme which sees us losing £154k for 2017/18 and a total of £784k over the next four years.
“This coupled with cuts to other Government funding, means we have had to make some tough recommendations to Council.
"We have already made some significant savings through our innovative shared service and transformation arrangements but unfortunately because of these draconian cuts by central government we are facing these difficult decisions."
“I have written to the MP to highlight our concerns and that we feel we have been very unfairly treated but in the meantime we have to make the books balance.
“We have given very careful consideration to these recommendations and used a lot of customer data as part of the process but I am still frustrated that it has come to this.”