Another £9m of cuts and job losses at Blackpool Council unveiled

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
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Blackpool Council has confirmed it is set to cut another £9m from its budget next year with 45 jobs also expected to go.

A combination of belt-tightening, new revenue streams in the tourism sector and using banked money will help make up the deficit first revealed by council leader Coun Simon Blackburn in his report to full council.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn

Read more £9m slashed from Blackpool's council budget brings total to £152m
Town hall chiefs have been forced to reduce spending by a total of £142m since 2011 including £5.5m last year, meaning there is little left to cut.

Plans include making savings of £570,000 a year by bringing the waste collection service in-house, it is hoped to rake in an extra £250,000 income to support the Illuminations while a revenue target of £175,000 has been set for the Switch-on weekend.

A one-off saving of £700,000 is being made on the street lighting private finance initiative, while £1.5m is being taken from earmarked reserves which currently stand at more than £30m.

Parking charges will be frozen at current levels next year and there will be no cuts to the street cleaning budget.

An additional £100m will be added to the business loans fund.

The council will also make use of an additional £900,000 from the government for adult social care and an additional £1.5m for children's social care.

Last year saw the loss of 70 jobs, but this year 15 compulsory redundancies are expected, up to 20 voluntary redundancies and 10 temporary contracts are coming to an end.

Coun Blackburn said: "Trying to save another £9m on top of the £142m that we have already lost is a difficult task.

"Every single pound we spend has been scrutinised before these proposals have been submitted.

"If we can achieve the saving without impacting on the services residents receive then we will do."

Coun Blackburn said he was disappointed more job cuts had to be made.

He added: "The number of posts we propose to lose is much smaller than in previous years but that is no consolation to the hard-working staff who are facing Christmas with an uncertain future."

Spending restrictions will not affect projects including the extension of the tramway and the construction of a new conference centre.

Coun Blackburn said: "Whenever we talk about government cuts to our budget some residents, quite rightly, ask how we fund the multi-million pound regeneration schemes that are under way at the moment.

“The simple answer is: other people are paying for most of it, not council tax payers.

"There is no way we would be able to build the new conference centre at the Winter Gardens, repair the town’s bridges or plan a Blackpool Museum if we had to fund it ourselves. We simply do not have the money.”

The proposals will be considered by the council’s executive committee on Monday December 10, with the final budget due to be agreed next February.

Key points in the budget include:

£570,000 annual saving from bringing waste services including bin collections in-house.

£850,000 from belt-tightening across the council

Additional £100m for the business loans fund

£180,000 contribution by charging technical costs on large-scale developments to the scheme or developer

£35,000 by increasing fees for registrars and bereavement services

£700,000 from the street lighting PFI

£2m will be used to fund the living wage for care providers delivering services for adult social care

Blackpool has received £1.5m for children's services as its share of a £410m government grant announced in the Autumn Budget

Public Health will see its annual £17m government grant cut by five per cent

£1.5m is being taken from earmarked reserves

£180,000 will be brought in from a new permit scheme enabling the council to charge utility companies when they need to dig up roads, and to fine them if they over-run on a project.

Next year?

Blackpool Council deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell says she cannot currently see an end to council cuts.

She said: "In the past we have had to find bigger amounts of money to save, and we have done very well in not cutting frontline services.

"In terms of next year, you only have to look at the (government's) Budget we have just had to see while there have been some things for local government, it is not enough.

"I know they are concentrating on Brexit at the moment, which is important for the country. But so is local government.

"We need some money and £9m has been a lot to find. No cuts are good."

Coun Campbell has signed the Breaking Point petition, a Labour campaign asking the Government for more money for local councils.

Opposition response

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, said the Labour-run council has borrowed millions "for vanity projects while letting down the people it serves."

He added: "When the choice has been made between short-lived headlines and much needed changes to failing services, too often the wrong decision has been taken.

"That is why we still have a system which is failing looked after children, under-performing schools, an economy still reliant on the whims of the weather and seasonal trade and, in case you haven’t noticed, traffic chaos across our town."

He said the Government had invested in Blackpool including £6m of Opportunity Area funding.

Coun Williams said: "It’s convenient to point the finger at Westminster, when the blame lies firmly at the council leader's own front door."