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City of York Council budget documents leaked
CHILDREN’S centres, youth clubs and road repairs in York could face huge funding cuts, secret budget documents have suggested.
Cost-cutting proposals in papers discussed by City of York Council’s Labour cabinet and senior officials also include a £350,000 reduction for the school improvement service and a £115,000 cut for the authority’s apprenticeship scheme in 2015/16.
Labour is launching an investigation into how the documents were obtained by the council’s Liberal Democrat group.
The authority will debate its two-year budget next month, but the leaked papers show proposals include reducing the children’s centre budget by £400,000 the year after next, on top of a £128,000 cut planned for 2014/15.
Youth services would lose £500,000 in 2015/16 following a £150,000 cut next year, while spending on roads would fall by £1 million in the second year of the budget.
The council is looking to save £12.1 million in 2015/16, including £3.3 million from efficiency savings and £4.5 million through the council’s “transformation” project.
The authority must also save £11 million in 2014/15, and by the end of that year it will have cut about £78 million from its budget since 2007/08 and £52 million in the space of four years.
Labour said no firm budget decisions had yet been taken, but Lib Dem leader Coun Keith Aspden said York’s families and young people would bear the brunt if the proposals discussed were implemented.
“These cuts will mean children’s centres and youth clubs will either face closure or a drastic reduction of the services they offer, and I am urgently seeking answers and a commitment from the cabinet member responsible that none of these will close,” he said.
“Meanwhile, a further £1 million being taken out of the road budget will mean even fewer potholes and paths being repaired. While these valued services face unprecedented cuts, lavish spending continues on the unpopular 20mph scheme, the King’s Square makeover and the Arts Barge, and only last month Labour found the money to create a new £140,000 senior management role.
“It is all about choices. This is not about national Government cuts, but ideological decisions by Labour.”
Coun Dafydd Williams, cabinet member for finance, performance and customer service, said Labour was still working on budgets for both 2014/15 and 2015/16.
He said: “No firm decisions have been taken yet, either internally or externally. Any paperwork which might be circulating could only be about options which are being considered rather than firm plans.
"It will come as no surprise to many people that we are having to consider significant reductions in budgets in many areas, as we attempt to manage the devastating cuts passed on to us by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government.”
A council spokesman said: “Every local authority is having to consider very difficult decisions in order to set a balanced budget.
“York is no different and, having seen an £80 million reduction in income, it is inevitable that the options faced are challenging, as evidenced in the working papers seen by The Press.”
The council’s budget proposals for the next two years will emerge next week ahead of a cabinet meeting on February 11 and the full budget council meeting on February 27.
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