Your say on major cuts

CUTS AHEAD The budget proposals are going out to public consultation.
CUTS AHEAD The budget proposals are going out to public consultation.

Major cuts to Kirklees Council’s budget will now go out to public consultation after senior councillors backed them this week.

A £21m cut from services and 200 jobs loses are included in the proposals, which were backed at its Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Kirklees residents can have their say on the plans from Monday. The authority is grappling with major funding cuts from central government which means it needs to save £129m by 2017.

Kirklees staff numbers will reduce by 201 from 7,086 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) to 6,885 FTEs – this excludes school staff.

Cuts include £1.4m less for routine road repairs, £1.076 less for street cleansing and the slashing of the Local Area Committee activity budget from £291m to nothing. Attended public toilets in Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Holmfirth are also at risk of closure. But the council hopes the private sector will take on the running of the toilets.

Some school crossing patrols in North Kirklees are to be “discontinued”. Station Road, Thornhill Lees; Crowlees Road and Richardthorpe Avenue, Mirfield; Greenside Road, Mirfield; and North Road, Ravensthorpe, are to be stopped. The council said the posts are currently vacant and difficult to recruit.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Kirklees may also carry out fewer duties in future as the Civic Office could lose £10,000 of its budget.

Some residents will have to pay a £30 administration charge for parking permits. Up to 9,000 people from across Kirklees would have to pay the charge to park outside their homes, but the council has said low-earners and pensioners will not be charged. Currently, 25 per cent of permits are issued to North Kirklees residents.

Deputy leader Coun David Sheard said: “Though some of the cuts in this year’s proposals are unpalatable, they are nothing compared to what they are going to be for the following two years.”

Cabinet members agreed that northern councils were being disproportionately affected by the cuts, laying the blame squarely at central government. Excluding the schools budget, the council is having to slash 30 to 40 per cent of its budget, Coun Sheard said.

Coun Amanda Stubley (Lab, Batley East) said tenants and residents associations (TRAs) would have to take on some of the work the council could no longer afford to do. She said: “This is an opportunity for TRAs to run their own estates, to do things like grass cutting, decorating and putting contracts out to tender.”

The budget consultation will take place over the six-week period ending on December 20.