STREET lights could be turned out, youth centres cut and funding slashed for transport for the disabled and elderly in a bid to plug Swindon Council’s £12m budget blackhole.

The “tough decisions” facing the council could also include removing caretakers from community centres and cutting bus routes.

The proposals have been slammed by one Swindon MP in the light of the council’s decision to fund a £450,000 loan to kickstart the wi-fi project.

But Swindon Council’s lead member for finance has pledged the council tax rise in April will be one of the lowest ever.

Draft budget proposals to fill Swindon Council’s £12m budget gap will be discussed at a cabinet meeting next Wednesday.

Among the headline cuts will be a £50,000 reduction in the subsidy to Dial A ride - the voluntary transport service for disabled and elderly people who struggle to travel.

Coun Mark Edwards, cabinet member for finance, agreed that it was an essential service.

“I understand it’s difficult and it was an uncomfortable decision but we have worked with Dial A Ride and we believe there are efficiency savings that can be made without hurting the service,” he said.

However, South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove called the cut “an outrage”.

“The council is really stepping over the line with planned cuts to services such as Dial A Ride that provide an essential service to the community,” she said.

“I urge the council to drop this plan. It seems like every day the council is threatening community groups and schemes while at the same time giving out £450,000 to a private company for the wi-fi project. I think they need to get their priorities in order.”

But Coun Edwards defended the wi-fi deal saying the council was expecting to receive its money back within a year to 18 months and would eventually make a profit.

Other cuts include a plan to turn off 481 street lights across the borough. The council insists the lights will not be in areas with footpaths or cycleways or next to roads with speed limits over 40mph.

Coun Edwards said: “One of the main complaints the council gets is about street lights being left on during the day. People are rightly concerned about us wasting energy and money. That point is equally true of some lights that are left on at night. If they are not useful why are we paying for them?”

Other areas facing the axe include youth services where a proposed 10 per cent reduction is being sought, including the possibility of youth centre closures.

Certain bus routes, including ones from Haydon Wick and Wroughton into the town centre, which were formerly paid for by funds from developers, could also be dropped.

Coun Edwards said despite the cuts around £7m of the budget gap was filled through “efficiency savings”.

But he admitted that these measures would lead to around 50 posts being made redundant across the council.

He said: “If one person is made redundant that is one person too many and we are acutely aware of that.

“But this is about making decisions that are in the best interest of Swindon and its taxpayers.”

The proposals will be discussed at a cabinet meeting at the Civic Offices on Wednesday (Dec 9).