Authority warns of savage cuts

NEAALM110405C2 - Age concern Eastwood. Chairman Norman Burrows, Trustee and Tresurer Josie Forrest and service user Joan May are upset about price rises for community transport
NEAALM110405C2 - Age concern Eastwood. Chairman Norman Burrows, Trustee and Tresurer Josie Forrest and service user Joan May are upset about price rises for community transport

Cash-strapped Nottinghamshire County Council has warned residents in Eastwood and Kimberley to prepare for savage cuts to services, up to 800 further council job losses and a hike in their council tax as the authority is forced to slash a staggering £154 million from its budget.

The bleak predictions were made as the council released its controversial proposals on how it will balance the books over the next three years.

And council chiefs have been quick to apologise for the cuts - which are the most brutal in the council’s history.

They admit they could have a devastating effect across the county, but insist they have been left with little option.

The council says that difficult decisions are having to be made because of massive cuts in the funding it receives from central Government.

Leader of the council, Labour’s Cllr Alan Rhodes, said: “I am angry that we have been forced into this position, not of our making, which gives us no choice but to cut vital services and further reduce our workforce.

“We have made the extremely difficult decision to recommend an increase in council tax.

“I hope our residents understand that this is not something we do lightly, especially in the current economic climate, but it will make a difference in protecting at least some of the services at threat.

“However, greater efficiencies and increasing council tax will only go so far and we are left with no option but to make significant service cuts.

“In putting these proposals together, we have attempted to apply an ethos of fairness in difficult times and maintain services in those areas of greatest need wherever possible. I do appreciate though that this is little comfort to those service users and employees who are adversely affected, and for that, I am extremely sorry.”

More than 122 budget proposals have been put forward which the council says will affect all council service areas, including adult support, school meals, care for the disabled, waste and recycling, highway maintenance and libraries.

And the massive cuts are destined to affect services across the Eastwood and Kimberley area.

The council is yet to pinpoint exactly where all of the cuts will fall and departments in which job losses will be made, but some details have been released.

Under the sweeping proposals, council responsibility for some smaller libraries could be relinquished, with community groups encouraged to take control.

Money allocated to roadworks and fixing potholes will also be reduced.

Cllr Keith Longdon, who represents Eastwood on the county council, has tirelessly campaigned years to get the town’s roads improved.

At the end of each winter he makes a list of the most affected roads, and pushes for them to be repaired. He said: “I don’t think roads is an area that should be hit by this. There is always uproar about potholes in Eastwood.

“The state of the roads are terrible. It’s a huge bone of contention with people.”

Community transport taking pensioners to the Age Concern lunch club in Eastwood could very well be scrapped altogether, and grants could be cut at Eastwood Volunteer Bureau.