Road repairs amongst cuts as city council bridges £8 million funding gap

Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
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An £8 million gap in funding means only the most essential road repairs in Peterborough will go ahead.

The second and final set of budget proposals from Peterborough City Council has also revealed £350,000 will be saved from spending on libraries without any closures and £500,000 will be saved from an imminent second senior management review.

The council will also remove £400,000 from funding cultural and leisure services such as the Key Theatre and the Lido with admission prices expected to rise.

The council estimates in its budget report that the proposals outlined will mean 26 people losing their jobs but it plans to pay all staff a living wage.

A council tax freeze has also been announced.

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Budget documents: The city council published its phase two budget proposals on Friday, 9 January, where they explain how theywill save £8.2 million to balance the 2015/16 budget.

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Reductions in spending are needed to bridge the council’s £25.3 million budget deficit.

The first set of budget proposals, agreed in December, made savings of £16.6 million.

The gap in funding follows a 40 per cent reduction in government funding over five years up to 2015/16 which resulted in a loss of £44 million to the council.

All proposals set out in the latest set of budget proposals are on the council’s website and will be up for public consultation from Monday January 19.

Over £500,000 will be saved in the next three years from a reduction in money to improve roads and footpaths.

The council’s budget report states that: “Only those schemes which are necessary to ensure the safety of the public will be carried out.”

Main roads across the city will not be affected by this.

Preventative work will also be carried out to make sure surfaces last as long as possible.

Vivacity, who provide culture and leisure services in the city, will look to become self-financing after a £400,000 reduction in funding from the council for certain services.

The Key Theatre will lose £180,000 worth of funding which will see a review in charges for tickets and the type of programme offered.

Admission charges at the Lido will also be looked at due to a £60,000 cut while Vivacity’s support for the Great Eastern Run and its volunteers could also be impacted due to £70,000 being taken away from sports development.

In addition, Peterborough Arts Festival will be significantly reduced in 2015/16 and may not continue after that.

Delivery of the Heritage Festival in the city centre will also require external funding.

The council has announced it will not close any of Peterborough’s 10 libraries and will increase their opening hours from 261 a week to almost 387.

However, staffing hours are set to be significantly reduced and job losses have not been ruled out.

Proposed changes to the library service are to be put to a public consultation on January 19 subject to approval from the council’s cabinet.

A second senior management review by the council’s chief executive Gillian Beasley is also expected to made public very soon and is said in the budget report to have saved over £500,000 with some individuals to be let go.

Proposals to close four of Peterborough’s seven bowling greens are included in the report but no decision has yet been made with talks on-going.

The closures were included in phase one of the budget proposals last year but deferred after negative feedback.

Discussing the latest budget proposals, Councillor David Seaton, the council’s cabinet member for resources, highlighted the council’s committmemt to working with members from the other political parties.

He said: “It has been a huge undertaking to reach the stage where we have proposals which provide a balanced budget for 2015/16.

“This is quite an achievement when you consider that this has been one of the most difficult budget setting processes in the city’s history, finding savings totalling £25.3 million.

“We have taken on board comments that people have made during the phase one Budget Conversation and reflected these comments in our latest proposals.”

The council has revealed the areas which the public said they value the most.

The public consultation on its first set of budget proposals shows residents most value: the meals on wheels service for the the elderly and vulnerable, combatting fly-tipping, graffiti and anti-social behaviour, maintenance of parks and open spaces, street cleansing and libraries.

Cllr Seaton added that the city has a number of good schools and is continuing to create thousands of jobs.

He said.: “We have managed the council’s finances very carefully for a number of years now but it is getting increasingly harder to deliver a balanced budget when our government funding continues to decline and demands for services increase.

“That said, I continue to be amazed and proud of what the council and the city can achieve in such a difficult climate.”

Budget debate continues:

The phase two proposals will be considered initially by the Cabinet on Monday, 19 January - see meeting agenda.

A meeting of the full council will consider the phase two proposals on 4 March.

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