Darlington council cuts: Where the axe will fall
SCHOOL transport, concessionary fares and travel schemes will be among the first council cuts to be made in Darlington.
Twenty redundancies will be made and 13 vacant posts will remain unfilled, as Darlington Borough Council draws up its plans to cut £22m from its annual budget.
Senior officers and councillors have revealed the first phase of savings, but warned they are only the tip of the iceberg and worse are in store by the autumn.
The council must cut £22m from its £107m controllable budget by 2013. In the first year, those savings will be £11m.
The first proposals that have been drafted total £2.6m, of which £1.2m is from revenue and £1.4m from capital budgets.
They include £355,000 cuts from schools services, such as transport (£25,000), after school clubs (£100,000), concessionary transport (£25,000) and ethnic minorities and traveller children education (£30,000).
Savings of £235,000 will be made from transport schemes for the elderly and disabled including Shopmobility (£4,000), Ring a Ride (£6,000) and two concessionary schemes for bus pass holders and taxi vouchers (£225,000).
Other proposed reductions feature CCTV coverage (£15,000), school patrols (£15,000) crossing and transport schemes (£10,000).
The Playbuilders scheme will be stopped, although schemes already in operation will be completed.
Jobs will be lost in the children’s services contact point, park rangers, planning office, some middle managers and the press office. The Town Crier magazine will be published less regularly.
Councillor Chris McEwan, portfolio holder for resources and efficiency, said: “In general terms, this is the tip of the iceberg. The clear message is that we face a severe challenge and we have to act. We don’t do this with relish. The cuts in the autumn will be much bigger and will shock the local community.”
Opposition councillors will be briefed this morning.
Conservative leader Councillor Heather Scott said: “The Conservative group for two years has been warning this council was spending too much.
“We need to protect frontline services.”
Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Martin Swainston said: “These cuts can be made without damaging frontline services.”
Alan Docherty, GMB union representative for the council, said unions would represent those staff threatened with redundancy.
He said: “The cuts are depressing. We expect councillors to fight for Darlington and battle the Government.”
The proposals will be discussed at a cabinet meeting in the town hall on Wednesday, at 5pm.
Some of the key cuts
* School transport – stop concessionary transport, charging children who are not eligible for free home-to-school transport and remove excess capacity on buses, saving £25,000 this year and £50,000 a year thereafter.
* Darlington Concessionary Fare Scheme – stop passholders travelling before 9.30am and after 11pm on weekdays from September 1, saving £200,000 this year and £343,000 thereafter.
* Darlington Concessionary Fare Scheme – withdraw travel scheme for taxi vouchers saving £25,000 this year and £70,000 thereafter.
* Ring a Ride Service – withdraw grant saving £6,000 this year and £25,000 per year thereafter.
* Shopmobility Service – reduce the grant from September 1, levying a £2 charge per trip for users, saving £4,000 this year and £8,000 per year thereafter.
* After school clubs – reduce grants for schools to stop some pre and after school activities, saving £100,000.
* Ethnic, minority and traveller schools service – removing vacant posts and reduce service provided to schools with speakers of English as an additional language, saving £30,000 a year.
* Schools crossing patrol budget – reduce budget taking into account locations where crossings have been installed, with no impact on staffing, but saving £15,000 a year.
* Pupil Referral Unit – restructure staffing, which can be achieved without the need for compulsory redundancies, saving £94,000 per year.
* Countryside and rights of way – Remove the head ranger and one other ranger post, one of which works in South Park, saving £10,000 this year and £55,000 a year thereafter.
* CCTV – remove one senior manager and stop investigating footage for police, potentially leading to another redundancy, saving £15,000 this year and £60,000 a year thereafter.
* Traffic management budget reductions – a ten per cent reduction on traffic management budget, including requests for lines, bollards, speed limits and bus shelters, saving £10,000 a year.
* Road safety education and training – reduce number of campaigns through the year, saving £7,000 this year and £9,000 a year thereafter.
* Town hall cleaning – reduce frequency of cleaning from daily to once or twice a week saving £20,000 this year and £70,000 a year thereafter.
* Communications office – remove one part-time position and reduce regularity of Town Crier, saving £10,000 this year and £20,000 a year thereafter.