Gritting routes review plan for Derbyshire to meet cuts

Labour leader Ed Milliband in Ilkeston. Derbyshire Labour group leader Anne Western.
Labour leader Ed Milliband in Ilkeston. Derbyshire Labour group leader Anne Western.
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Gritting routes will be reviewed and council tax raised in Derbyshire to meet £45 million of funding cuts in what the county council says its its ‘toughest ever’ budget.

Other services to be slashed include some school crossing patrols and community transport schemes, while the council is aiming to have fewer children’s homes.

Staff posts will be scrapped in some departments while the libraries and heritage services are ‘restructured’.

On gritting the council says routes will be reviewed to see if £200,000 can be saved by organising them in a different way and by using new, more efficient gritting lorries to save money on salt.

Cuts to precautionary gritting routes in Sheffield had to be reversed after scores of collisions in icy weather.

It is also proposed to increase council tax in Derbyshire by 1.98 per cent - or £21.75 a year - to raise £5m and plug the black hall.

Coun Anne Western, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “We don’t want to cut services or raise council tax – but we’ve got no choice.

“Two-thirds of our funding comes from the Government but this is rapidly being cut.

“We’re putting our own house in order by scrutinising spending to make sure cash is used where it is needed most and doing all we can to make ends meet.

“But ultimately these cuts will mean some services we provide will have to change, reduce or stop altogether – and we need to ask local people to pay more in council tax to help pay for the services that continue.”

The council says it has many other financial pressures and it is withdrawing £7m from its savings to protect vital services.

Plans to create a combined authority in the county are in the pipeline.

Coun Western has also renewed her calls to Government to redress the funding balance and says people living in Derbyshire are taking a bigger cut than any other similar county in England.

The council has to make cuts of £157 million to balance its budget by 2018 - or £200 per person living in the county.

She said: “This year every Derbyshire household will lose £97 in Government funding for local services but if you lived in Buckinghamshire you would only lose £52 and in Hampshire the cut is even less at £43 per household.”

Other proposals on the table include:

£1m - Stop providing transport for adult care clients who have reasonable alternatives and to charge those who need transport to day care services. The policy is due to come into effect in April 2015.

Up to £4m - Reducing the funding of housing-related support services over two years. These services help vulnerable people to set up and maintain a home where they can live safely and well.

£300K - Reduce the number of looked after children coming into the council’s care

£520K - Continue work on a consultation previously agreed to reduce the number of children’s homes with more children in care being placed in a family/foster care setting instead

£900K - A consultation is ongoing to review children’s centres and possibly reduce hours, some services, or close some entirely to make cuts.

£300k - Over two years it is proposed to cut all support currently given to the eight community transport schemes across Derbyshire.

£96K - subject to Cabinet agreeing a report in January 2015 it is planned to consult on proposals to end the service on light controlled crossings, zebra crossings and for the seven schools that have a lunch time service, and at sites that are vacant that do not meet criteria drawn from national standards.

£1.3m - Over the coming year staff numbers in the department of economy, transport and environment will be reduced by up to 18 posts. It is hoped to mainly achieve this by not replacing people when they leave, staff reorganisations, and maximising income to pay for staff costs.

£299K - Fewer senior managers and employees in Communications, Call Derbyshire and the Policy and Research Unit. This will be achieved by not replacing people who leave.

£94k - Fewer publicity campaigns and reduction in printed materials.