Organisations affected by a proposed £3.8m cut in Gloucester City Council’s budget say they were shocked to hear the proposals.
Council leader Paul James admitted the £3.86million savings his administration has proposed are going to go much deeper than “salami slicing”.
They will be made over the next two financial years – and could see £500,000 wiped off the grant support given to Aspire, the trust which runs GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls Indoor Tennis Centre, while voluntary organisations would lose £100,000 of grant support.
Steve Elway, chief executive of Aspire, said: “We are very disappointed in the news. Over the past few weeks the City Council have raised the total savings required significantly to £500,000 over two years.
“Aspire are working hard to find ways to achieve the £100,000 required for 2014/15, where the majority of savings may be achieved through a reduction in utility costs if a new Air Handling System can be procured and installed by March 2013 at GL1.
“As for the further £400,000 savings for 2015/16, our initial thoughts are that it cannot be achieved without a significant reduction in service.
“We are still in negotiation with the City Council, where we hope a more realistic saving total for 2015/16 can be agreed.”
A £90,000 cut in rent support for organisations such as the Gloucester Law Centre and Citizen Advice Bureau could leave them under threat.
Norman Gardner, bureau manager, said: “This has come as a shock, particularly as we were led to believe we were an important service the council was keen to support.
“Clearly a cut of this magnitude will be difficult for us to fill.”
Other tough measures include a 10 per cent hike in garden waste charges and slashing £250,000 each from the Gloucester Guildhall and the budget shared by the Folk and City museums.
There was some good news for taxpayers and motorists – Council Tax would be frozen for the fourth year in a row and car parking charges would not go up. The draft budget will need to be approved in the new year.
Mr James said: “We have already achieved £7.5million savings over the past few years. That’s a pretty substantial sum.
“Our challenge this time will be the much bigger savings coming in the following year. Are we a sustainable council if we don’t take radical decisions? I’d say no. We cannot just carry on salami slicing.”
In the firing line:
£500,000 cut to Aspire, which runs GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls
£250,000 cut to the Gloucester Guildhall
£250,000 cut to Gloucester’s Folk and City museums
£1.5million cut to a contract with Amey, the firm which the city’s refuse and recycling collections, street cleaning and grounds maintenance
£100,000 grant support for voluntary groups slashed
£90,000 accommodation grants for groups such as the Law Centre and Citizens Advice Bureau axed
Garden waste charges to increase by around 10 per cent