Reduced bus services and large social care savings included in 'bold' Peterborough City Council budget

Some Peterborough bus routes are to see a reduced service to help cash-strapped Peterborough City Council balance the books.

Friday, 5th October 2018, 4:38 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th October 2018, 10:09 am
Cllr David Seaton with a copy of the budget
Cllr David Seaton with a copy of the budget

Announcing its latest set of budget proposals this afternoon, the council has confirmed it will end or reduce "underused" Sunday evening and Bank Holiday Monday services which it currently subsidises Stagecoach to run.

The cut amounts to £150,00 of a current spend of £715,000 for subsidising "commercially unviable" bus routes.

The move will help the council make nearly £11.5 million of savings as it responds to huge pressures on its finances as a result of a £45 million reduction in its government grant (80 per cent) and millions of pounds of rising pressures on children and adults in care.

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Cllr David Seaton with a copy of the budget

Other measures announced today include:

. Around £1 million in savings in the adult social care budget through new methods of operating

. Relocating the Visitor Information Centre in Bridge Street into the nearby Town Hall

. £300,000 saved from changing the way roads and footpaths are patched

. Commercialisation of the city's Prevention and Enforcement Service which hands out fines for anti-social behaviour and other misdemeanours including illegal parking

. Transferring Gladstone Park Community Centre to Thomas Deacon Academy on a long term lease

. Further sharing of staff with Cambridgeshire County Council

. Eight jobs lost, although these will be minimised by deleting vacant posts.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich said: "It most certainly is a bold plan.

“Through sharing services with nearby authorities like Cambridgeshire County Council and remodeling teams to make sure they work in the most effective way possible, we are continuing to drive efficiencies.

“After nearly a decade of government cuts we, like every other council in England and Wales, are having to tighten our purse strings and make difficult decisions. We need to focus on what really matters - protecting vulnerable people and prioritising spending on areas that will ensure Peterborough is still a place to be proud of in the future.

"Education, clean streets and protecting our city's infrastructure and growth will ensure we are not letting down future generations.”

The council said one of the bus routes affected currently costs £9 per person to subsidise.

The Peterborough Telegraph asked earlier today for a full list of which services will be affected but has yet to receive a response.

Cabinet member for resources Cllr David Seaton said: "Quite frankly the routes are not being used much and a substantial amount of money is being spent."

However, leader of the council's Liberal Democrat group Cllr Nick Sandford described it as a "swingeing cut" to public transport.

He added: "It will cause massive hardship for elderly people, young people with no cars and people going to see entertainment."

The council's finances have been hit by £6 million of additional pressures in the last six months..

The vast majority of that is due to having 50 more children in care than back in April.

The current proposals are for the 2019/20 budget which is being produced in three sections spread over the year.

The first tranche of proposals was agreed back in July and included setting up separate parking and environmental crime enforcement teams.

The third tranche of proposals in the new year will have to save £3 million under current forecasts.

To have your say on the latest set of proposals, you can view the budget document on the council's website and complete an online questionnaire.

Hard copies of the budget and questionnaire will be available at the Town Hall and Bayard Place receptions and in each of the city’s libraries by 9am on Monday, October 8..

The council's cabinet will consider the proposals at its meeting on Monday, October 15.

Comments received up to 5pm on Friday, November 30 will be considered by the cabinet on Monday, December 3.

The consultation will close at 5pm on Monday, December 10.

Full Council will then consider the proposals on Wednesday, December 12.