Council puts cash back in

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AFter a five month consultation on its budget for next year, Nottinghamshire County Council has done a U-turn and allocated extra money to some key services.

After masses of complaints and hundreds of letters, the council has decided to increase the amount allocated to voluntary groups including Citizens Advice Bureau, library services and vulnerable people.

The council will now put an extra £450,000 into voluntary organisations – £25,000 of which will be spent on Citizens Advice Bureau centres.

The original proposal was to halve the £3.3m funding allocated to voluntary bodies.

Over £70,000 will be ploughed back into the library service budget to pay for the county’s smaller libraries to stay open longer. Selston library will now have its hours slashed from 31 and a half per week to 16, instead of ten, as initially proposed.

Vulnerable people – such as the homeless, domestic violence victims, the elderly and people suffering mental health problems and learning difficulties – also benefited from the extra funding after councillors opted to choose the lowest possible cut to the Supporting People budget over the next four years, of £10m.

The proposed £200-a-week increase in charges to residents in care homes has also been halved to £100 per week, for the first year with the full charges brought in next year.

Almost 1,000 people contacted the council during the consultation.

The council has to save £154m over the next three years – £87m of which has got to be saved by April 2012.

Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council,Kay Cutts, said: “We have listened to significant concerns by making a number of changes to our original proposals which reduce their impact on services users and organisations that we provide funding to.”

Cllr Keith Longdon who represents Eastwood on the county council said: “It’s maybe not enough in some cases, but you pick your own areas of cuts depending on what party you are in.

“They say they have listened to the people, and maybe they have. One thing is for certain, there has to be cuts because you can’t keep throwing money down the drain.”

But critics are still unhappy at some of the plans.

We revealed last week how Selston councillor Gail Turner did not believe the library concessions went far enough and Eastwood MP Gloria de Piero raised library cuts in parliament and will be taking part in a ‘read-in’ to protest against the plans.