Critics slam Walsall Council plans to save £86m as ‘shameful’ to the borough

CRITICS have accused Walsall Council of producing a “slash and burn budget”, with others describing plans to save millions of pounds as “shameful” to the borough.

Hundreds of jobs will be axed and 12 children’s centres, eight libraries and a museum will close under plans described as the most horrific cuts to ever hit Walsall Council.

Brutal budget proposals have been announced as the authority must save £86 million over the next four years – including £29 million in the next year alone.

“This is a really difficult day for Walsall,” said Cllr Coughlan, announcing the plans at a press conference at Walsall Council House on Monday (October 20).

More than £2 million is to be slashed from youth services. Officials say that this will not affect vulnerable children.

Eight out of Walsall’s 16 libraries will be culled to save £500,000. Beechdale, Pheasey, South Walsall, Streetly and Walsall Wood libraries face closure in the next year, with Blakenall, New Invention and Rushall libraries set to shut their doors in 2016/17.

And Walsall Musuem is back on the chopping block, with plans to close the Lichfield Street building to save £70,000. The museum faced the same fate last year but was eventually saved from closure.

Other cost-cutting plans include the closure of the Outdoor Adventure Service, which delivered outdoor activities to 300 young people with disabilities per month last year.

From April 2016, residents could see bin collections reduced to fortnightly, and garden waste collection could be collected for six months instead of eight months between April and September. A £28 annual charge for garden waste collection could be imposed from April 2016.

Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith – who voted for Labour to take control of the authority at the meeting in August – said he now regretted his decision and further blasted the proposals as “shameful” and a “let down” to voters.

“These new Labour proposals will probably mean that they will break the record of being in control of Walsall Council for the shortest time ever as the 2015 local elections approach,” he added.

“I call on Labour to get off their knees by fighting these cuts and refusing to implement them, even if it means that the Government send in their own axe wielders to do their own dirty work.”

Public consultation on the budget proposals will commence next Thursday (October 30).

WE WOULD STRESS FOR ANYONE WHO IS CONCERNED TO TAKE PART IN THE CONSULTATION

Read full story here – Walsall Advertiser

Have your say on Walsall Council’s budget

Council bosses in Walsall have launched their budget consultation as they start to prepare proposals that will save £85 million over the next four years.
Phase one of the budget consultation asks borough residents and businesses which services they would choose to protect, reduce or cease.
From 1-29 September 2014, council staff will be available at the First Stop Shop and libraries to capture people’s feedback – exact dates, times and venues can be found at Click here – Budget consultation – Financial Year 2015-16

Councillor Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council, said: “The council has already saved £75 million over the last 4 years and I’m sure there are more efficiencies still to be made – but realistically we are going to need fundamental changes in the way local services are provided.
“We need help in making some difficult decisions. This could be the toughest year yet of savings.
“Some services will remain, some will be run differently and some will have to cease. Some things that have been free we may need to charge for and where there are already charges these may increase.
“This isn’t going to be easy for us and I know that Walsall people won’t all be happy with every decision we make.
“That’s why I’m launching the budget consultation now. We need to know the priorities of our residents and businesses.”

In phase two of the budget consultation, when the draft budget proposals are published, Walsall Council will be seeking the comments of residents and businesses through to February 2015.

Full Info here