Mayor outlines budget recommendations for 2014-15
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon has recommended cuts of nearly £15 million to the Council's budget for the forthcoming financial year
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon has recommended cuts of nearly £15 million to the Council's budget for the forthcoming financial year.
Mr Mallon outlined his recommendations for 2014/15 at a special meeting of full Council last night (Monday, January 20) following a six-week consultation.
The cuts - in addition to more than £40 million removed from the Council's budget over the last three years - will lead to significant changes to local services and the loss of up to 600 jobs.
The severe budget cuts are in response to the Coalition Government's drive to reduce public sector spending, with Middlesbrough required to achieve total budget reductions of more than £67 million over the next three years.
At last night's meeting in the Town Hall, Mr Mallon outlined a total of 40 cuts, including the closure of Council-run facilities and significant reductions and changes to a number of services.
Services in a number of areas including environment, leisure and social care will be reduced, delivered differently or closed, including the creation of a new enforcement service through the merger of Wardens, Parking Enforcement Officers and Neighbourhood Enforcement teams.
Facilities earmarked for closure include Clairville Stadium, the Middlesbrough Teaching and Learning Centre, the TAD Centre and the Register Office.
Changes include reductions in grass cutting, grounds maintenance and litter picking, reductions in leisure centre opening hours and staffing levels and the contracting out of a number of services.
Mr Mallon stressed that 'contracting out' did not mean 'privatisation': "Where it is in the Council's best interests for services to be delivered externally, this should occur.
"This does not mean, however, that the Council will abdicate responsibility for the town or our employees."
The Council would maintain strategic responsibility for such services, he added, and 'unacceptable' practices such as 'zero hours' contracts would not be permitted.
Changes to November's proposals include an increase in the funding for Community Councils from £500 to £750 per year, and the withdrawal of a proposal to reduce Trade Union facility time.
Mr Mallon also gave further detail on a major proposal to save more than £7 million by making greater use of IT and automated processes, and making efficiencies in 'back office' services, with savings to be found in a number of areas including admin support, finance, HR and legal services.
Mr Mallon said: "I'm grateful to those who contributed to the consultation, and their feedback has assisted me greatly in reassessing my original proposals.
"However it remains the case that this Council must change almost beyond recognition and people will see a reduction in services and a change in the urban environment.
"It has been clear from the outset that the cuts imposed on us are too deep, too quick and savage, but we have no choice but to find these savings if we are to balance the books.
"These cuts will affect every single area of what the Council does, but we will continue to do the very best we can with the resources available to us."
Key forthcoming dates:
- February, 2014 - draft budget agreed
- March, 2014 - Council finalises 2014/15 budget
Please follow the link to view the Mayor's Full Budget Proposals and Recommendations [76kb]