HOUSEHOLDERS are being reminded they have less than a week left to comment on plans to shave £14m off Swindon Council’s budget next financial year.
A public consultation on the draft budget proposals ends on January 17 – and the Conservative administration is asking for views on the plans, and suggestions of other ways to cut expenditure.
The draft proposals include abolishing 120 council posts to save about £3.1m, re-engineering the way services are delivered, reducing funding to some organisations, and generating more income from its current facilities.
The council needs to make savings to cope with £12m worth of extra costs in the next financial year – mainly due to increased demand for services – and reduced overall funding of about £3.3m.
Deputy council leader Garry Perkins stressed the budget must balance, but he still wants public feedback and ideas, which will be considered and could inform the amended proposals to be presented to cabinet in February.
“They will be gone through in great detail to see how they could be accommodated, what effect they will have on the budget and, if we add something back in, what could be changed to directly balance the budget,” he said.
“We have prepared a balanced budget and we have to end up with a balanced budget, so if something goes in, something else has to come out.”
The draft proposals were partly formed by consultation events during September involving focus groups of 70 residents of different ages and backgrounds. The proposals went out for public consultation following a scrutiny committee meeting in November.
Coun Perkins explained that the administration proposes to protect services for vulnerable people, but expenditure on other services had been reviewed.
He said that the council had managed expenditure well over a number of years, so did not have to follow some other authorities in completely closing services, such as leisure centres.
Commenting on feedback on the budget plans so far, he said: “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of negative outcry on what’s been proposed at the moment.
“There’s usually one or two areas in the budget that might initiate campaigns but we’ve had absolutely nothing like that this year.
“And I think people accept there has to be savings within the budget because obviously the Government is economically tied.”
To read the budget proposals, visit www.swindon.gov.uk. Feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to Communications Service, Swindon Borough Council, Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon, SN1 2JH.
Sheltered housing support charges would be capped at the average weekly rate for all providers in Swindon.
The council hopes to increase income from Lydiard House through increased barbecue provision and produce sales. It also hopes to raise more money from Steam through increased commercial activity and events.
There would be savings from libraries by bringing down the stock fund by 15 per cent, in line with similar councils, and reducing the range of newspapers and magazines by 50 per cent.
More money would be saved at the Delta Tennis Centre through closer working with the community and laying off one member of staff.
Lights would be switched off in the Brunel North, Brunel West and Spring Gardens car parks when they are not open, and phased lighting would be introduced in these car parks as well as John Street, the Wyvern and Carlton multi-storey car parks.
The one-hour tariff in Brunel West, Brunel North and Fleming Way would be increased back to £1.20, its original level prior to the changes in July 2010.
Some charges for leisure and other services are planned to increase, with some rising above inflation to replace council subsidies.