Kirklees propose £21m service cuts

Kirklees propose £21m service cuts

PROPOSED budget cuts to Kirklees Council services totalling £21m were outlined on Tuesday.

More than 200 jobs could go while area committees and Dewsbury’s manned public toilets on Longcauseway face the axe.

The proposals are in a draft budget for 2014/15 – and once agreed they will be put out to public consultation.

Council chief Mehboob Khan (Lab) warned: “Big changes are needed over the next three years if we are to balance the books.

“By working on a one-year budget now we can take more time over the major decisions we face in the following two years.”

Cuts planned included axing ten vacant school crossing patrols, including at Greenside Road, Mirfield, and Station Road, Thornhill Lees.

The bare-bones budget also sees an end of funding for the Kirklees Federation of Tenants and Residents Association.

Entry charges to sports centres run by Kirklees Active Leisure, such as Batley Sports and Tennis Centre, will go up.

There will be £1.4m less for routine road repairs - meaning pot holes are less likely to be fixed.

Area committees, which fund community activities such as Christmas lights, could be scrapped altogether.

A review is under way, and the area committees’ Kirklees-wide £291,000 budget continues until it is finished, but it is proposed to end them.

Lib Dem leader Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) said many volunteer-led groups and charities will be hurt.

She added: “In Spen Valley we give vital funding which means they can run events and get matched-funding which bring money into Kirklees.

“If area committees can’t help then I’m worried about how community groups  can continue to operate.”

Children’s services, which covers schools, loses £4.2m from a £75.8m budget, though the Connexions career service is unaffected.

A £30 charge is proposed for all 320 permit parking zones across Kirklees, hitting up to 9,000 people.

Tory leader Robert Light (Birstall and Birkenshaw) feels the changes do not go far enough.

He said: “I don’t think any new ideas are coming from the current leadership. We’re discussing our own proposals.

“I’m also concerned things are being centralised in Huddersfield. Dewsbury could be left as a satellite office.”

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