Jesmond residents’ views sought over £30m cuts

Jesmond residents have been urged to contribute their views to a consultation about plans to cut some £30 million from Newcastle City Council’s budget for the 2012-13 financial year.

Photograph by Alex Liivet under Creative Commons Licence

A council representative addressed residents at this week’s South Jesmond ward committee meeting, saying their views are being sought to help decide where the money can be saved.

The council has produced a set of proposals for cuts, charges and efficiency savings, which are under consultation until March when councillors will vote on them. Cllr David Hardman called on South Jesmond residents to contribute their views, so that councillors can make the right decisions when coming to vote.

One proposal includes devolving more of the council’s functions to ward level, meaning Jesmond residents could be in a better position to provide input to decisions affecting their area.

As a result, ward funding would increase by 45%, although this would be offset by the cost of having to provide more services.

The council does not intend to close local libraries, but the mobile library service would be scrapped under the proposals.

Representatives of the Vale House Tenants Association expressed their disappointment at the plans, pointing out the difficulty of accessing library facilities from Jesmond Vale. Councillors mooted an outreach scheme from Jesmond Library as a possible solution.

The council also intends to save £6.2 million in the provision of social care, its biggest expenditure. This will mean imposing upper limits on high-cost care and seeking greater efficiency through integration with the NHS and the commissioning of alternative providers.

Other proposals include introducing an annual charge of £20 for garden waste collection, reductions in senior management at the council and more efficient use of council buildings.

Residents can contribute to the consultation through the website Let’s Talk Newcastle, by emailing letstalk@newcastle.gov.uk, or by writing to FREEPOST let’s talk Newcastle. There will also be a consultation event at Ouseburn Community Centre between 6 and 8pm on 31st January.

The relevant documents are available on the council’s website, including the draft budget proposals and A fair budget for a fairer city, which outlines the financial context of the cuts and the proposals being put forward. Paper copies are also available in Jesmond Library.

The need for £30 million of savings comes as a result of a £13.3 million cut in the council’s Formula Grant from central government, and various other pressures including reductions of income, greater demand for services and high inflation driving up costs.

The cuts come on top of a £44 million reduction in this year’s budget.

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