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Kirklees Council Budget 2016: Labour's plans voted through - what does it mean for you?

The Tory and Lib Dem amendments were voted down

Huge cuts to Kirklees Council 's budget have been voted through.

All 69 members of Kirklees Council were summoned to the annual budget meeting last night to discuss how to spend the borough’s vastly reduced pot of money over the next four years.

The ruling Labour party submitted its vision for how to manage the significant cuts to its spending power as its budget shrinks by more than £40m per year.

Oppositions groups accepted serious cuts had to be made but all said they would do things differently.

But after two-and-half hours of debate, Labour was able to vote through its plans, with the support of one other.

The vote was backed 33 for and 28 against.

Only one Labour councillor did not attend but five opposition councillors failed to show up. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor do not vote.

Labour had a majority but were also backed by Holme Valley Independent, Edgar Holroyd-Doveton.

Clr Edgar Holroyd-Doveton
Clr Edgar Holroyd-Doveton

Prior to the vote councillors argued over how they would do things.

The Conservatives said they could save more than £25m from the Labour budget, mostly through scrapping the £15m Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centre action plans.

A further £10m would be saved through a range of cuts to council back-office functions, the biggest £3.5m from the IT service.

Take a look back at our live blog to see how the meeting went down

The Tories said they would spend £5m of their savings fixing Kirklees’ pothole-ridden roads and would devolve another £10m to councillors on District Committees for a whole range of local projects such as park maintenance, markets, community centres, and improving town centres.

The Conservative group also hoped to boost the libraries budget by £400,000, provide £350,000 for improving rural broadband and said they would use £2m of reserves in the revenue budget.

Clr David Hall, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on the council said: “We are committed to devolving the control of spending on local issues – such as parks, markets, street cleaning, gritting, libraries and museums – to local committees.

Clr David Hall
Clr David Hall

“This would mean real devolution of decision making nearer to the communities which are affected. It will also drive efficiencies in delivering those services, and help our local economies, by employing smaller, local firms and tradesmen.”

The Liberal Democrats said they could slash £10.8m from the council’s capital plan, again mostly through diverting cash from Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres.

The Lib Dems said they would pump £4.2m into fixing up the crumbling Tolson Museum and repeated their annual request for funding for two new bridges, one at Longroyd Bridge and one at Slaithwaite.

The Liberals also said charging 50p fare for the Free Town Bus in Huddersfield would save it from the chop and proposed funding to save a number of services the Labour group have said must be slashed, including; school crossing patrols, street cleaning, Kirklees music school and library staffing.

Read more: Kirklees Council Budget 2016 - Opposition groups reveal how they would spend your cash

Read more: Unions raise fears as 500 Kirklees Council staff to move out of public sector

Clr Nicola Turner, Kirklees Liberal Democrat Leader, said: “Kirklees Liberal Democrats Members recognise that the Council will yet again be forced to make enormously difficult decisions about its budget and its services.

“However, we strongly advocate that some of the council’s key services are protected, such as its libraries, museums, street cleaning and school crossing patrols.”

Meanwhile, the Green Party and Valley Independent Group (GPVI) submitted about £2m of amendments to Labour’s plans.

The GPVI said more than £1m could be saved by reducing back-office, political and trade union staffing costs and the associated energy and maintenance costs.

A further million would be found through slashing the number of elections and councillors and using reserves as working capital.

The group said it would spend £1.7m of its savings on devolving cash to communities with the rest spent on leveraging external funding supporting Green issues such as flooding, climate change and the reduction of fuel poverty.

The cuts in numbers

Kirklees has suffered roughly 40% cuts to its spending power and leaders were shocked when further huge cuts to its allocation were announced in December – just weeks before crucial spending decisions had to be made.

The borough will receive about £50m less per year from the government and finance chiefs have calculated they are about £84m short of money over the four year period.

Overall funding will shrink from £265m a year to £221m by 2019/20.

Reserves have already been used to fill a £12m gap in this year’s budget and a further £15.7m of reserves will be used in 2016/17 to balance the books.

But council number crunchers say they are £16m short for 2017/18 and about £30m out the year after. A £38m funding black hole would appear in 2019/20.

The minority Labour administration said cuts of almost £31m will be imposed in the upcoming financial year.

Services identified for cuts include the Children’s Music Service which could lose £296,000 of its £319,000 budget.

Subsidies for some nurseries and schools will be totally removed over the next two years saving £231,000.

Six figure sums will also be sliced from care services for the disabled and elderly.

Public Health services will also be scaled back after the government decided to “claw back” £1.6m of money it had promised.

Cuts of about £800,000 have been earmarked for the waste collection and street cleaning service.

The free town bus will stop being free in 2017 but will continue to run as a chargeable service.

Further cuts will be announced in the coming months with museums expected to take one of the biggest hits.

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