Council leadership decide where £28m of cuts will fall this year

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Loxley House, home to Nottingham City Council
By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottingham City Council has revealed where it plans to make £28m of cuts this year following the results of a public consultation.

The Labour-run authority will close children’s centres, reduce youth provision, and charge for bulky waste and for parking a second and third car on residential streets.

Bus services will be reduced, a public toilet closed, and community centre grants slashed to save money during this financial year.

The council will also cut 83 of its full-time staff, although 24 of these posts are currently vacant.

The authority also plans to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent for 2022/23.

The local authority says it has been faced with an increase demand on services such as Adult and Children’s Social Care as well as a reduction in government grants.

It is also being monitored by the government to ensure significant savings are made following the demise of Robin Hood Energy – a council owned company which went bust in January 2020.

Papers published ahead of an Executive Board meeting on Tuesday, February 22, explain where the axe will fall as part of its Medium-Term Financial Plan.

The council carried out an eight-week consultation on the proposed savings for this financial year. It had planned to close six of its nine children’s centres.

It has now decided to close only five children’s centres but has not disclosed exactly which ones will go.

It has also decided to retain three additional staff in play and youth services ensuring there are 15 youth workers plus a manager providing city-wide outreach.

The council says £28m of savings are needed for 2022/23 rising to £38.1 million in 2025/26.

Cllr Sam Webster (Lab), portfolio holder for finance, said: “I want to thank everyone who took part in our budget consultation. We always said the proposals were not set in stone and we’ve listened carefully to what people have told us and acted on their views and suggestions.

“However, like many councils across the country, we are still facing extremely challenging circumstances due to a decade of unprecedented reductions in Government funding and the growing demand for some key council services, especially care services for older people.”

Some of the proposals for this year include:

Youth work

Ending the grant funding of the youth services and NGY base provided by Base 51 – a charity supporting 11 to 25-year-olds.

With the council’s reduction in funding, there will be a reduction in NGY staffing hours and the services that BASE 51 can offer including ‘universal youth provision,’ ‘gym provision’ and a ‘safe place for young people in crisis in the city centre.’

There will also be a reduction of the youth and play service (and buildings) to provide targeted youth provision only.

The youth offer for 10 to 17-year-olds will be reduced to a targeted outreach / detached offer. The youth offer will also be based out of one building.

One other additional site will be maintained with a caretaker facility to allow for community use.

As a result of the reduction in buildings and service delivery for play and youth services, a reduction in staffing is also proposed.

Children’s Centres

Re-shape children’s centre provision to provide for “the most vulnerable families” within reduced buildings and staffing infrastructure.

It will retain four of its nine children’s centres.

Bulky Waste

Introduce a £20 booking fee per bulky waste appointment. Each appointment will be limited to a maximum of 6 items (afterwards additional cost will apply).

Residents who receive council tax support will obtain one or two free collections per year. The definition of bulky waste is waste that exceeds 25kg in weight or waste which cannot fit into bins for households waste.

Paying for second or third car

The current allocation of residential permits is free.

Residents are entitled to 3 free permits with a combination of 1 resident and 2 visitor or 3 visitor permits.

The proposal is for one free permit per household to those residents who are part of a permit scheme and who meet the residents permit eligibility criteria.

This can either be a residential permit or a visitor’s permit.

If a second permit is required for that particular household an administration fee of £35 will be charged to the resident. If a third permit is required for the same household an administration fee of £50 will charged to the resident.

Permits will be renewed on an annual basis and the administration charge is per annum. The maximum allocation of permits per household is three.

Community Centres

The council is proposing a reduction of £54,000 through the reduction of annual Community Centre grants.

The services delivered from Community Centres is non-statutory and provide a range of support and activities delivered directly or through organised groups as well as a venue for hire by the public.

Closing toilets

Close the public convenience on Victoria Embankment. The council currently provide a charge for public conveniences on Victoria embankment via a subcontractor.

Due to the financial pressures the council has proposed to cancel this contract and remove the facility from the embankment.

Bus Fare Increases

A fares increase on all Linkbus services, including Medilink. The council says there have been no fares increases on the services since March 2019. The cost of an adult single rising by ten pence from £2.30 to £2.40.

Subsidised bus services in the city are being considered as an area for efficiency savings. This can be achieved through a reduction in the number of vehicles required to operate the services.

There will be a reduction in the number of buses allocated to the Locallink and Worklink routes from six buses to four buses at any one time.

All five routes currently operated will still be served, but two routes will be reduced to each operate on three days each week (alternate days), and one of these routes will also see a frequency reduction

To withdraw the A1 School bus service, aimed at providing school journeys, on grounds that other services are available for many users of this route.

Removal of the A1 service will mean that, for some students, this will involve an interchange bus trip (via Bulwell Bus Station), or an extended walking distance to one single bus service.

If endorsed by Executive councillors this month, these plans will go forward for final approval at the Full Council meeting on March 7.

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