Service cuts warning as Barnsley town council to close

Residents in a South Yorkshire community are warned to expect '˜significant changes' in services after their town council is abolished.

Monday, 18th January 2016, 2:11 pm
Updated Monday, 18th January 2016, 2:14 pm
Barnsley Town Hall. Picture: Andrew Roe

Residents voted for Brierley Town Council to be abolished in a community referendum last year after former clerk Janet Cooper was jailed for fraud and theft that landed the town council with debts of more than £1 million.

Barnsley Council chiefs are now considering how to transfer the town council’s assets and services before it is officially abolished in April.

While the authority has agreed to provide services previously offered by the town council to residents in Brierley and Grimethorpe if they come at no extra cost, some will be axed and others reduced.

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These could include clearing litter or fly-tipping and changing the terms of community use of buildings.

Barnsley Council leader Coun Sir Stephen Houghton, said: “We are working hard to make sure that the effect of the abolition of Brierley Town Council has a minimal impact on its residents and the community.

“The safety and concern of local residents is a key focus, we understand this decision will affect them, but they supported the decision to abolish the town council after the community vote in July 2015. “Where it’s at no additional cost to BMBC, we will try to keep buildings open and up and running.

“It’s likely that grounds maintenance operations such as grass cutting, fly tipping, litter picking and hedge cutting will reduce and these services will be less frequent, and the terms on which users currently use buildings and facilities may well have to change.”

Barnsley Council’s human resources staff are also working with staff who will be made redundant as a result of the abolition of the town council and the civil parish.

The council says that the changes in services will bring the community in line with other areas that do not have town or parish councils.

Chiefs are said to be working on a plan to achieve the ‘best possible outcome’ while assessments are under way to understand the implications of land asset transfers.

Janet Cooper, aged 52, of Wadsley Lane, Hillsborough, was jailed for eight years for the town council fraud in 2013.