Worse to come after council tax rise and £8.5m cuts for Denbighshire


Staff reporter (Rhyl Journal)

COUNCIL bosses have warned worse is to come after a 3.5 per cent council tax rise and £8.5miilion in cuts were approved by Denbighshire Council.

At a meeting of the Full Council on Monday the 2014/15 budget was approved but during the debate councillors raised concerns over job losses, service cuts and school funding.

The council tax increase will go towards £2 million the council needs to find by April 1 to meet its £8.5 million budget cut.

Hugh Evans, leader of the council, said: “The council have tried to protect jobs and services as far as we can with this budget but we have gone as far as we can.

"We must go forward, next year it will be a completely different debate in terms of making efficiencies, it is the worst settlement in our history so to reach a figure of 3.5 per cent council tax increase and maintaining services we want and a decent level of workforce for this year, and considering issues and impact on residents is as good as it gets.”

Denbigh councillor Colin Hughes asked for more transparency and honesty over job losses.

At the meeting he said: “How many job losses does this budget mean?

"The report says review of services, I know that means job losses. How affective will we be if we lose personel? There’s not even estimate of numbers and I find it very frustrating.”

Cabinet lead member for finance, Julian Thompson-Hill said they have no figures for the amount of job losses in this round of budget proposals.

He said: “We have reached the end of tinkering with structure and reorganisation of services.

“We are going to be in a situation where services will have to justify what they are doing and why.

“In the next budget round we will probably come out looking very different then we do now.

“We will do everything we can to save services for people but at the end of the day the budget has to balance.”

To save money towards the budget the council will also offer employees to pay less into their pension and consequently Denbighshire County Council will contribute less with a potential saving of £300,000.

The council will also use £300,000 from its balances which was going to be used in 2015/16 as well as bringing forward savings of £95,000 scheduled to be saved in 2015/16.

Cllr Thompson-Hill said: “There are no additional services to save money, the remaining gap can only be found by increasing council tax.

“It is not appropriate to take any more from the council balance this year.”

Paul McGrady, head of finance and assets said by moving the saving schedule a year early the council is buying time to make difficult decisions.

Cuts include a reduction in funding for the Prestatyn Scala Cinema and Arts Cente of £12,500 a year, West Rhyl Young Person's project, has had its funding cut by £41,000 while workforce efficiencies savings of £363,000 have been found including the removal of essential car user allowance.

Rhyl-based Cefendy Healthcare has had its subsidy reduced by £31,000.

Fleet efficiencies will see a reduction in vehicles saving £80,000, while the renegotiation of building cleaning contracts is hoped to save £100,000.

A review of service provision for music and arts will save £52,000.

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