Cuts now ‘taking their toll’

Speakers at the Blackpool Against the Cuts meeting

Speakers at the Blackpool Against the Cuts meeting

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The cumulative impact of cuts to all the public services is having a damaging impact on Blackpool, a public meeting in the resort was told.

More than 40 people attended the meeting organised by campaign group Blackpool Against the Cuts (BAC) at the Ruskin Hotel in Albert Road.

Speakers representing council, fire, police and education services addressed the audience.

They included Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, Caroline Sturgess of the Lancashire Fire Brigade Union and Simon Jones, local executive member for the National Union of Teachers.

Members of the audience also had chance to quiz the speakers about the effect of austerity measures.

Ken Cridland, of Blackpool Against the Cuts, said afterwards: “The extent of the cuts is now really serious.

“The cumulative effect on Blackpool and Lancashire councils now runs into hundreds of millions of pounds with cuts to important targeted services as well as universal services like libraries.

“Twenty five per cent of the police budget and 900 officers have gone in Lancashire.

“We have lost fire engines manned by full time fire fighters, even a station.

“Fewer fire fighters now arrive and on average two minutes slower, and if another engine is needed it often has to come from further away. Lives are at stake.

“Schools with full classes are now having to lose teachers and are short of funds for resources. More cuts are still threatened. People are really suffering.”

He added: “Cuts to one service often hit the others as well. For instance, council cuts have a knock on effect over loss of support for schools with the less special educational needs support, welfare officers, libraries and school improvement officers for instance.

“Council cuts have also cut services which help the police keep crime down, for example on dealing with drugs and domestic violence.”

Blackpool Council has seen year-on-year-cuts since 2011/12 totalling £118m, but the roll-over effect is closer to £400m.

Since 2010, funding for police forces has been slashed meaning by 2020, Lancashire will have lost more than £90m.

By April the number of police officers in the county had been reduced by 900.

BAC says it will continue with its campaigning which includes putting leaflets through doors and talking to the public through its regular street stalls which are held in the town.