DCSIMG

Budget ‘yes’ means 300 job losses

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Town Hall

  • by Shelagh Parkinson
 

TOWN hall cuts of £14.1m including the loss of 300 jobs have been voted through by councillors.

Blackpool residents will see a fractional reduction in council tax – down by 9p for those living in an average band D property, equivalent to 0.01 per cent overall.

When precepts to pay for the police and fire service are added, it means band D bills will go up to £1,522.57 from £1,519.67.

The budget cuts mean the youth service will be axed and CCTV cameras in the town will no longer be monitored.

But council leader Coun Simon Blackburn announced an extra pot of cash totalling £357,000 which will be directed at helping young people and hard up families.

He described the budget, which sets out £150m worth of spending in the next financial year, as one which prioritised what residents wanted.

Coun Blackburn said: “It is about having the priorities which reflect the needs and desires of the electorate and about sticking to those priorities in bad times as well as good times.”

COUNCIL TAX BANDINGS FOR THIS YEAR AND NEXT YEAR

Band - 2012 to 2013 - 2013 to 2014

Band A - £1,013.11 - £1,015.05

Band B - £1,181.97 - £1,184.22

Band C - £1,350.82 - £1,353.40

Band D - £1,519.67 - £1,522.57

Band E - £1,857.37 - £1,860.92

Band F - £2,195.37 - £2,199.27

Band G - £2,532.78 - £2,537.62

Band H - £3,039.34 - £3,045.14

He said despite the cuts, the council was committed to tackling child poverty, protecting the most vulnerable and attracting investment and quality jobs to Blackpool.

A new pot of cash using funds from the New Homes Bonus reserve, which is a government grant to encourage house building, will see an extra £357,000 channelled into five new initiatives.

This includes £98,000 to fund seven new apprentices, £40,000 to set up a comprehensive work experience programme in the town, £115,000 to support council employees facing redundancy including a £20,000 hardship fund, £44,000 to help young people access education, and £60,000 to provide shop premises for the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union.

But the Tories accused Labour of ‘bankrupting’ the town and warned of future asset-stripping.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said £3m had been taken out of council reserves, which had been at £7m when the Conservatives were in power.

He said: “We are concerned because we are £1m away from bankruptcy. We are £1m away from government intervention and could lose our unitary status.”

He added: “The only way this administration can get this budget through is if they sell some of our assets.”

The budget will see the council youth service axed in order to save £600,000 but a fund of £250,000 is being set up which existing youth organisations can bid into.

Mike Barry, operations director at Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union, welcomed the cash earmarked for them. He said: “We have issued loans of £3m over that time which have saved people £1.8m over high interest lenders.”

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