BUDGET cuts of £3.41million at Gloucester City Council aren’t quite as bad as finance bosses had feared.
Politicians had been bracing themselves for almost a £3.9million axe-wielding cut to services including hard-pressed voluntary groups and organisations.
But Government plans to top-slice the city’s grant for the building of new homes have been ditched, meaning the savings will not need to be as severe.
Councillor Jennie Dallimore, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, gave the strongest hint yet that she will make a U-turn on a proposed £100,000 cut to the grant aid given to the city’s voluntary sector.
In a cabinet meeting on Wednesday she said: “I have met with some of the groups in the voluntary sector and there may need to be some changes to the amounts of savings being made in my portfolio.”
Taxpayers will be relieved that council tax is set to be frozen for the fourth year running.
Motorists will also be buoyed by news that there will be no increases in car parking charges.
But the city is still facing some of the biggest cuts ever, finance boss councillor Fred Wood, cabinet member for performance and resources, said. “We know only too well that in setting this budget we are facing one of the toughest financial outlooks for decades,” he warned.
Mr Wood added: “There is some improvement for 2015/16 because of central government’s decision not to top slice the new homes bonus. All this allows for some flexibility in the cuts.”
Almost 800 city residents responded to a consultation in which they told council bosses what they would like to see protected.
One in five people said that waste collections were most important to them, along with 14 per cent who supported protecting street cleaning and litter collection. Only six per cent thought parks, play areas and open spaces were most important to them.
The least important services for people included car parking, the museums and the people who deal with planning applications. The Guildhall, housing benefit and council tax support and supporting the voluntary sector also scored low on the list of priorities for people.
Seven out of 10 people backed the council’s plan to freeze council tax.
Some 29 per cent of respondents want a reduction in car parking charges and 15 per cent wanted a fall in charges for museums, garden waste and bulky waste collections.
Council leader Paul James said: “I’m pleased that we have so many people take part in the consultation.”
Budget plans will need to be approved on February 27.