REASSURANCES have been made to parents in Swindon after it was suggested that money set aside for refurbishing playgrounds in the town should be used to plug the council’s huge funding gap.

Deputy leader of Swindon Council, Coun Garry Perkins, said the playgrounds would still be refurbished, but it might not be to the same standard as was originally planned.

In a report to the council’s cabinet ahead of a meeting next week, council officers suggested the remaining £322,000 from the Playbuilder budget could be redirected to other departments.

The money, which is the remainder of a £2m grant to refurbish playgrounds in Swindon, was to be used to improve the Twist site in Penhill, Northview play area in Highworth, Maunsell Way play area in Wroughton and Mannington Recreation Ground in Rodbourne.

Coun Perkins said: “I think it would be totally wrong to go back on those residents who expected their playparks to be renovated and tell them it will not now go ahead.

“But it might be a case of using the money in a slightly different way.”

He said the council was aiming to find £4m worth of savings in this financial year and is expecting at least £11m worth of cuts next year too.

More details about exactly where the cuts could fall will be outlined in an emergency budget being drawn up for October.

The Government has reduced the main grant it gives to Swindon Council by £1.4m in this financial year and another £1.29m in capital grants.

Coun Perkins said they were working on the assumption that the council’s budget will be reduced by between £30-40m in three years’ time.

He said: “There will have to be major changes. Not just shaving off a few services, it will mean totally redesigning them. We have been told there must be no council tax increases so that doesn’t give us an awful lot of room for movement. It’s going to hit every resident in Swindon to some effect.”

In the report, officers also warn that it is not realistic to assume that the scale of job losses at the council could be as great as 1,000 over the next few years.

Leader of the Labour group on Swindon Borough Council, Coun Derique Montaut, criticised the ‘disproportionate’ level of cuts Swindon has received from central Government compared to other authorities.

“I think the local Tory administration have really shown a lack of purpose in simply allowing this Con-Dem government to run wild in cuts to Swindon’s finances,” he said.

“It’s also been shameful that this Tory administration have tried to keep this news from the Swindon public, who deserve to know why our town has been targeted for cuts more than other areas.”