Council cuts - what they mean to you.

PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 February 2011

Old Clerical Medical Building, Clevedon. Castlewood.; 21-1-10

Old Clerical Medical Building, Clevedon. Castlewood.; 21-1-10

Archant

NEARLY £20million of funding is going to be pulled from services provided by North Somerset Council if councillors approve a budget for 2011/12 next week.

Meals on Wheels volunteers Lawrence Pillay, Chrissie Bizley, Sue Campbell and Gill Graham. Unit5 Tweed Industrial Est, Clevedon.; 5-6-07

The proposed budget revealed by the authority’s executive members will mean £18.6million will be cut from services including housing, adults social and community for the financial year.

It is part of a four-year programme to save £47.3million.

Squeezed by a reduction in Government funding, council finance officers have undergone the massive task of identifying cost-cutting measures across most services.

So how will these planned savings impact on the lives of residents?

Here, we take a closer look at some of the most notable spending reductions.

* Adults seeking help from North Somerset Council are set to be the biggest losers when the budget comes into play in April.

More savings have been identified in the department than in any other.

Out of the £2.4million earmarked, much will be saved by merging services with other public organisations.

For example, a total of £700,000 will be saved by joint working with the NHS on projects ‘enabling people to live independent lives’.

Encouraging fewer people to rely on transport to and from care will also save £75,000, while a pay freeze on council officers will release £251,000.

A reduction in spending money on preventing homelessness will save £30,000.

Businesses providing nursing care and accommodation to people will also be expected to take a freeze in fees to save £800,000.

* When it comes to property and asset management the opening of the council’s new £13million offices and the closure of several district branches will save the authority £200,000 in 2011/12, according to authority chiefs.

A total of 558 staff are to be located at the Castlewood offices (pictured below) following the purchase of the building last year. The building, formerly used by HBOS, is also likely to be rented out to partners such as the NHS and Agilisys.

The council has promised the move will not lead to a net loss of jobs in Weston.

A total of £189,000 of savings will also come from the letting out of a management contract from the Winter Gardens, The Playhouse and Tourist Information Centre.

Transferring Weston’s North Somerset Museum to the town council will save an extra £72,000.

Further north in the district, the transfer of Swiss Valley Sports Centre in Clevedon and Gordano Sports Centre in Portishead to school-based trusts will save £43,000.

* In terms of legal and democratic services, redundancies will save the council £82,000, with a further £10,020 kept back because of a pay freeze.

A total of £17,000 will be saved from reducing the number of public meetings, while councillors will be effected by £80,000 worth of savings.

Where exactly the councillor savings will come from is not clear until an assigned working group makes a proposal later this year.

Last week, council leader Nigel Ashton said: “It will be up to that group to come up with suggestions so the new council can decide which to implement after the elections.

“If no suggestions are agreed it will be taken out of councillor allowances.”

The 62 elected council members claimed £803,795 in allowances and expenses during 2009/10.

At the top of the expenses list was Cllr Ashton, who claimed £2,686 in expenses plus £33,807 in allowances.

* More than £1million is to be saved thanks to a series of initiatives challenging spending in North Somerset Council departments.

A programme of procurement procedures will be introduced across all areas of the council and is set to save £1,314,750. A total of £25,000 will also be saved from reducing the number of mobile phones used by staff.

Other savings:

- A reduction in spending on CCTV operations will save £20,000.

- The withdrawal of funding to the council’s school music service will save £54,119.

- A reduced usage of concessionary public transport passes means the council will be able to save £193,000.

- A reduction of street name plates by 50 per cent will save £7,000.

- Introduction of part-night street lighting to most residential areas will save £45,000.

- A reduction of library material funding by 15 per cent will save £30,000.


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