Labour call for budget details

Labour councillors are demanding Walsall Council’s coalition cabinet spell out the consequences of the biggest round of cuts in the authority’s history. 

The call comes as the council announced a consultation on government plans to cut £70 million over four years from Walsall council’s budget which will lead to the dismemberment of frontline services.

Services people rely on a daily basis from parks to public toilets, from education to social care, are facing cutbacks in a round of swingeing cuts which will take £13 million out of council services next year, alone.

Responding to the proposed budget by the council’s Conservative/ Lib Dem coalition cabinet Labour councillors warned everyone living in Walsall will be affected by the wholesale cutbacks.

Leader of the Council’s Labour Group, Councillor Tim Oliver, said:  “We fear that over the next four years whole departments will effectively cease to function.

“Previously, the Conservatives and their Lib Dems  partners have claimed that ‘savings’ can be made by cuts in back room operations but a quick look at these proposals shows that is a fallacy and frontline services the people of Walsall rely on will disappear.

“What we are seeing here is the coalition government forcing local councils to do their dirty work – and hoping that people will simply blame their local council rather than look at the disastrous economic policies which are putting us in this position in the first place.”

So far the council has only explained in detail £2 million of its £13 million cuts and has failed to outline how services such as children’s centres will be affected. One of the largest cuts announced so far is £400,000 in parks and open spaces, which will see an end to weekend patrols, a reduction in the number of wardens and cuts in maintenance programmes

Bloxwich West councillor, Fred Westley, said the borough’s parks and open spaces enhance community life, encourage children’s development while facilities like football pitches prompt healthy exercise.

“Over the years local people and council staff have worked hard to make places like King George V Playing Fields a safe area at the heart of community events like Bloxwich Carnival,” he said

”The cuts in the maintenance programme will see it becoming run down while reductions in patrols and wardens are bound to see increases in anti-social behaviour and vandalism. These cuts will devastate community assets.”

Walsall Labour are demanding that the cabinet now publishes the full list of proposed cuts so residents can see the true cost of their polices.

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