Cuts hit everyone, but we must protect elderly
WHEN asked what services the council should keep or cut, most people pause, even stall, for an answer.
One woman admits she cannot think of anything she uses that she will miss. Another concedes that it will probably be only when the services have gone, that she will notice.
So far the cuts have been minimal, but the biggest impact is expected to be felt in the autumn, when £11m could be taken away from services in the town.
Kizzy Kukreja, 25, who lives in the West End of Darlington, said: “It’s really important that the Citizens Advice Bureau and public transport are kept functioning.
“It’s important for the elderly that they don’t take their welfare away, and that they keep fuel allowance and bus passes.
“At this time, the arts centre and theatre are less of an issue. It will be sad to lose them, but that’s something that could go private and not be publicly funded.”
Father-of-two Ahmed Kaddoura, 34, from the Yarm Road area of the town, says he hopes Sure Start is continued.
“Sure Start is important,” he says. “Our kids go there and we get vouchers for them to go swimming. They have games and bouncy castles for them.”
He adds: “But the cuts are going to affect everybody.”
Pensioners Peter Gilligan and Mary Dodds both think that wages in senior management are too high.
Mr Gilligan, 79, from Eastbourne, says: “I’m worried about the top chiefs getting top wages. I don’t think their wages are warranted. People in the private sector don’t get that.
“But I don’t think these cuts will hit the top people – I think it will hit the people who do the donkey work.”
Mrs Dodds, 74, from Middleton St George, also thinks that benefits should be means tested in order to reduce the amount paid out to those not requiring them.
She adds: “I would be worried that services such as street cleaning and bin collections were carried out less often. I couldn’t cope with that.
“I think there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians at the town hall. There are too many people making decisions that need to be cut.”
Darlington Borough Council leader John Williams announced in July that his authority would have to cut £22m from its controllable budget of £107m over the course of four years.
In the first round of cuts 20 jobs and 13 other vacant positions went and £1.2m was taken from the revenue budget.
Those affected by the loss of services say they will hit the vulnerable, particularly elderly, young and disabled.
Early cuts include losing school concessionary transport schemes, Shopmobility and Ring a Ride services and restricting the use of bus passes.
Unions also warn that many people in the town do not realise how much of what the council provides is not statutory.
The majority of the council’s controllable budget comes from care of elderly and vulnerable adults (totalling £31.1m), education services other than schools (£23.9m) and care for families and vulnerable children (£11.3m).
The council spends an additional £139m each year, including £61m on schools and £39m on benefits.
Darlington Borough Council must cut £22m from its controllable spend of £107m
* Education Services other than schools £23.9m
* Caring for Families and Vulnerable Children £11.3m
* Caring for Older People and Vulnerable Adults £31.1m
* Roads, Lighting and Safety £4.4m
* Concessionary Travel and Parking £4.1m
* Arts Centre and Theatre £1.3m
* Dolphin Centre £2.0m
* Libraries £1.3m
* Parks and Open Spaces £2.8m
* Other Culture and Leisure Venues and Programmes £1.2m
* Street Cleaning £1.6m
* Waste Collection and Disposal £4.8m
* Community Safety £0.9m
* Trading Standards, Cemeteries, Environmental Health £0.7m
* Planning and Development Services £3.5m
* Housing Welfare and Benefits Administration £5.5m
* Local Tax Collection, Coroners, Planning for Emergencies £1.1m
* Pension Costs not relating to Individual Services £0.6m
* Administration of Democracy Elections, Local Elections, Councillors, Electoral Role and Support Services: Finance and Personnel £4.9m