CUTS to Staffordshire County Council's budget could push costs for some services onto Cheadle Town Council, members have warned. Councillors in Cheadle have agreed to ask the leader of Staffordshire County Council (SCC) to outline what services they may be expected to fund in the future. At a meeting of the town council's committees on Monday, October 1, Mayor Ian Plant proposed an invitation to Cllr Philip Atkins OBE.
Cllr Plant told the development services committee: “Most of us have been reading with interest the county council’s explanations for budget cuts. They’ve already cut the lengthsman scheme and now the lollipop people.
“I’m just wondering if it would be worth inviting Cllr Atkins to see where the money is going to come from.
“They’ve said they are going to push costs onto town and parish councils.
“There are six lollipop people round the Cheadle area and then there’s the grass-cutting. They’ve streamlined that down to twice a year, so you can’t see through the grass on the verges.
“I think we should ask them to come and give a run down of what they expect from town and parish councils.”
The comments follow the publication of budget plans by SCC, which include reviews of council support staff and school crossing patrols as well as controls on non-essential spending such as recruitment and conferences.
The council is also bidding to be part of a business rates pilot scheme and aiming to increase council tax by 2.95 per cent.
National funding to councils is being reduced year on year as the government aims to cut grants to local authorities entirely by 2020.
The reduction in national funding and a record spend of £315m on social care has left the council with a £35m shortfall.
In a statement last month, Cllr Atkins said: “As a county council we have helped deliver a strong flourishing economy, low unemployment, improving schools, good children’s services and better jobs and training for Staffordshire people – all on one of the lowest council taxes in the country.
“Although we remain absolutely committed to doing all of these, we also have to deal with a most pressing financial challenge of how we can continue to meet the increasing costs of adult social care and children’s care with less money year on year.
“We have already reduced our own running costs by £240m in the last nine years, and the reality is that without urgent additional national funding, we face some extremely difficult decisions in order to meet our legal duty to deliver a balanced budget next year.
“Our proposals mean we will still do more to support Staffordshire people than we are legally obliged to, but we want to be honest and open with people about the reality we may all face if the level of funding we need is not achieved. That is why we are publishing our budget three months early.”
At the meeting of Cheadle Town Council on Monday, members agreed to invite Cllr Atkins to a future meeting.
Cllr Ray Wood said: “As usual we’re a bit late with all this.
“It’s £35m they’ve got to save over the next three years. It’s cuts, cuts, cuts.
“That budget went through last Wednesday.
“The government is giving them less money. The county council are just juggling what they’ve got.
“It’s dire straits for Cheadle. At the end of the day it’s us that’s suffering.”
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