Bad debts and £20m of cuts
The Year The Town Hall Shrank BBC4, 9pm
IT'S not the best advert the North Staffordshire tourism authorities have ever had. The Year The Town Hall Shrank, a Hammer Horror for our time, takes us to summer 2011 when, having just made the biggest budget cuts in a generation, the council is staring down the barrel once again.
It has just cut £36m and is now seeking to slash another £20m. But the irony is the council's owed £20m in unpaid council tax. You do the math.
With one of the worst collection rates in the country, officials are under pressure to chase the debtors and bridge the funding gap.
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However, getting people to pay up isn't easy. Out with the bailiffs, it becomes clear that while there are those who can't pay, there are also those that won't.
And as council services close across the city, it begs the question – how many might have stayed open if everyone had paid their dues?
Meanwhile, the Big Society is being championed by the Prime Minister, a man for who Stoke-on-Trent is close to heart – every evening he eats a five course meal off a dinner service made here.
According to Dave, if services are to survive, it's down to residents to run them. One such is Tunstall Pool, the country's oldest Victorian swimming baths, closed by the council as part of the cuts.
Tunstall vicar Father John Stather has formed a group to try to keep it open. But the scheme drowns under a flood of disinterest.