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Fears after £3.86m cuts by Gloucester City Council announced

By citizenmike  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

Council leader Paul James: no more 'salami slicing'

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Almost £4million could be cut from Gloucester City Council's budget, it has emerged tonight.

In a heated debate, councillors learnt that savings were needed across every department if the city council is to cope with more Government austerity measures.

Council leader Paul James admitted the £3.86million savings his Tory administration were proposing were going to go much deeper than 'salami slicing'.

The cuts will be made over the next two financial years - 2014/15 and 2015/16 - and would see £500,000 wiped off the grant support give to Aspire, the organisation which runs GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls, while voluntary organisations would lose £100,000 of grant support.

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Concerns were raised that the Law Centre and Citizen Advice Bureau may have to find a new home as one proposal includes removing the rent grant support that they currently enjoy.

Norman Gardner, bureau manager for the Gloucester and District Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “News of this proposal has come as a shock particularly as we were led to believe that we were an important service that the council were keen to support.

“Clearly a cut of the magnitude currently being considered, followed closely behind the termination of our rent grants, which is over 30 per cent of our Council grant, earlier in the year will be difficult for us to fill.

“That said, we believe that the continuation of the services we collectively provide are fundamental and indeed essential to the people of Gloucester especially in the economic circumstances in which our clients tend to live. It is to be hoped that they will be able to continue.”

Other tough measures include a potential 10 per cent hike in garden waste charges, slashing the Gloucester Guildhall budget by £250,000 and saving the same amount from the running of the Folk and City Museums.

There was some good news for taxpayers and motorists alike - council tax will be frozen for the fourth year running and car parking charges will not be increased.

The budget will need to be approved in the New Year but the administration set out its stall at a meeting of the scrutiny committee tonight.

Mr James said: "We have already achieved £7.5million of savings over the past few years. That is a pretty substantial sum.

"Our challenge this time will be in that the much bigger savings will come in the following year.

"Are we a sustainable council if we don't take some radical decisions? I'd say no we are not. We cannot carry on salami slicing."

But there are fears that the such a huge cut to Aspire's grant could leave the future of facilities such as GL1 under threat. Labour leader Kate Haigh said: "We need to know what this will mean for Aspire. Could it mean the closure of the facility or a part of it? Cutting a budget in half could have a massive impact."

But Julian Wain, chief executive of the council, warned: "It is important to remember that the figures are quite drastic and it is going to be challenging. The savings are going to have to come from somewhere. The question of the sustainability of the Aspire Trust is equally about the sustainability of the council."

Liberal Democrat leader Jeremy Hilton said a 'lack of detail' in what all of the cuts could mean on the ground was 'feeble'. He said: "This looks scant and feeble and we are very much on a wing and a prayer as to whether we will actually make any of these savings. We should have had detailed reports coming to us. There is something wrong here."

Cabinet members and council officers alike vowed to shed more light on the detail of the savings, but said it would depend on what grant settlement they receive from the Government for the year ahead, something which would only be announced later this month.

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  • GlosAnarchy  |  December 13 2013, 10:11AM

    Smoke and mirrors, Government cut's spending - less jobs Less jobs - less tax Less tax -Government cuts spending.

    |   -19
  • socialista  |  December 13 2013, 9:41AM

    uk_socrates, You`re wrong to say that "the UK government needs to borrow money to just keep things going" - where do you think the huge sums for quantitative easing (QE) came from? They weren`t borrowed, they were created by the Bank of England under QE. Under QE, £375bn of the national debt has been bought by the Bank of England (BoE) from private holders of UK debt. But instead of cancelling it the Treasury pays interest on that debt to the BoE. In Autumn 2012 George Osborne, in a desperate attempt to make it look like the deficit was going down asked the then governor of the BoE, Mervyn King, to pay the QE interest back to the Treasury. King promptly agreed. This £375bn of national debt should be cancelled, rather than having one branch of government (the Treasury) pay interest on this debt to another branch of government (the Bank of England) which then pays it back to the Treasury. This is an accounting trick that the UK`s leading accountant & economist Richard Murphy has repeatedly pointed out on his website - the motive is purely political - i.e. to hide the ease with which national debt can be repurchased & cancelled. See for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/kqgssqo

  • jas37  |  December 11 2013, 11:04PM

    Andyman123, I'm not suggesting that Osborne's plan is going to sort all of the Countries long term problems but nobody seems to have come up with anything remotely close to being a creditable alternative.

  • jas37  |  December 11 2013, 11:00PM

    hollandp- The Rugby World Cup should be the biggest event ever to take place in Gloucester, it's surely a massive opportunity for the City to sell itself. It will be interesting to see how this money is exactly put to use though.

  • uk_socrates  |  December 11 2013, 6:12PM

    @Andyman123 Cancelling the countries debt wouldn't solve anything, as the UK government needs to borrow money to just keep things going. So as a government you would struggle to borrow any money the following morning, which would bring the country to a halt. I actually agree with a lot of yours point on private debt and the banking sector as a whole. However I am not to sure what the solution is..... The public sector has become rather large, and thus very expensive. At the same time the private sector has become full of a lot of low-paid jobs that are not even full time. People forget that the profits and wealth created from the private sector is suppose to fund the public sector. (Unless you have lots of oil or gas to sell to global markets). So its a complete mess. Eventually I think we might start to see low-paid private sector workers taking to the streets and demanding higher wages....but we will see. On top of this, technology is also putting strains on the system. With Amazon bringing out drones, and Google bringing out driver-less cars, these kind of super-technologies will surely increase unemployment in 10 years time?. So eventually I think the entire system will collapse. But I don't THINK debt will bring it down, I think technology will bring it down.

  • Andyman123  |  December 11 2013, 5:43PM

    Jaz you are living in a parallel universe. Private debt is now around £1.5 trillion. Exactly what are these wonderful bankers doing ? Creating more debt. Oh and PPI mis selling, rigging LIbor rates, forcing small businesses to shut (RBS), risking huge sums of money on derivatives, and pumping up house prices by continuing to issue liar loans without proper income checks on mortgages. The city of London earns a lot less for this country than most people assume. It receives hidden subsidies worth billions to bail out their criminal an irresponsible behavior. And yet STILL none of them are prosecuted. They WILL take down the entire economy, because when interest rates rise (as eventually they will have to) it will collapse house prices and with it will go the banks balance sheets. There is no way out for the UK, and Osborn's austerity wont' work because it doesn't address the fundamental problem of increasing debt and decreasing wages.

  • Kay_Powell  |  December 11 2013, 4:28PM

    Just like most MPs, councils are happy to let people think that they are responsible for a successful event, but don't take responsibility for any aspects that are problematic, such as the traffic chaos. I'm not at all surprised that most people think that the Quays is somehow linked to Gloucester City Council, as they (and Marketing Gloucester, which is wholly owned by the city council) are always promoting it.

    |   -23
  • hollandp  |  December 11 2013, 3:22PM

    Did you know the council is spending 350,000 on the rugby world cup next year. The swimming pool might have to close to pay for it. Why doesnt the RFU pay for it, its got loads.

  • Snappy_Happer  |  December 11 2013, 11:10AM

    No problem, jas37, and it still comes down to the council's responsibility if they don't anticipate that their transport system can't cope with events they allow to take place. Incidently, we paid our first visit to the new cinema yesterday, to see 'Catching Fire'. The leg room by itself was very impressive, as was being able to park right outside, since my wife can't take her arthritis medication while she recovers from a severe infection, so that even crossing the road was agony. I assumed the markings did say 'Disabled Parking Only', as the first word was illegible, and the second almost so. Could use a retouch.

  • jas37  |  December 11 2013, 10:28AM

    Snappy-Happer, Apologies, I still failed to clarify, the Quays in owned by the Peel Group. Try Peel.co.uk