Crossing patrols and jobs to go as Stoke-on-Trent City Council cuts £21m
SCHOOL crossing patrols will be axed, CCTV cameras scaled back and 250 more jobs will go under city council plans to cut more than £21 million.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council today unveils citywide cuts which target frontline services, outsource more elderly care and slash nursery education.
Staff pay will be frozen for a fourth year and the authority will again take on unions by trying to make savings through cutting contractual perks. But 848 of the lowest paid workers, most of whom are part-time, will receive pay increases to lift them from the minimum wage to a national 'living wage' of £7.45 an hour.
Budget cut proposals for 2013/14 include:
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Cutting crossing patrols at schools with a pedestrian crossing – unless they agree to pay for them – and increasing other school service charges to raise £427,000;
Reducing CCTV monitoring to focus on troublespot areas at peak times and axing the environmental crime unit with the loss of 19 jobs to save £782,000;
Shutting the St Michael's care home, in Chell;
Increasing prices at leisure facilities like Dimensions and Fenton Manor by three per cent;
Slashing free nursery class provision from 30 hours a week to the legal minimum of 15 hours to save £1.7 million;
Axing £50,000 funding to voluntary groups.
Council leaders say cuts to the frontline are now 'inevitable.'
The authority is commissioning experts to work out how poor pupil performance in the first two years of schooling can be approved despite the cuts to nursery provision.
Council tax will be frozen as planned at £788.98 for Band A properties, which will trigger a £600,000 payment from the Government. The savings of £21.1 million include an £8 million cut in grant funding and £13.1 million cost pressures the Government will not cover – including soaring childcare demands, contractual increments, inflation and the living wage pledge.
Council and Labour leader Mohammed Pervez said: "The cuts are severe. We simply can't afford to carry on the way we have."
Chief executive John van de Laarschot said: "We have tried to delay it for as long as possible, but we are getting to the level now where we have to start looking at reductions in frontline services."
Today's cuts come as the council has already saved £56 million over the past two years. Consultation runs until January 11 with the budget due to be fixed on February 28.