‘Discretionary’ services may be hit

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Local Liberal Democrats have expressed dismay at the Conservative Cabinet’s proposals that “discretionary services” should take the biggest cut if large savings have to be made in three years’ time (2017/18)..

They point out that cutting “discretionary services” could mean anything from shutting libraries, stopping giving grants to voluntary organisations, to reducing gritting to a bare minimum.

The Cabinet Budget proposes that £2.6m needs to be found from a review of these services, out of a total savings figure of £9.4m.

“We want to see the Council become as lean and efficient as possible and, indeed, joining services up could even produce better services. It’s also important that the Council continues to work even more closely with local people and community groups as well as with other public sector bodies such as Police and Health” says Coun Janet Battye, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group.

“When we consulted local people in 2010, they asked us to protect local services and that’s what we still want to do. So we welcome the Cabinet’s proposals to involve the public in these important decisions, but we have real concerns that the largest amount of proposed savings are targeted at “discretionary services”

Councillor James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) said “At the moment, there are no details on what these proposals actually mean.

“We are worried because many local services that are valued by local people, such as libraries, youth services and swimming pools may be cut because these can all be classed as “discretionary services”.

“We’ll be making some proposals about where we think more money could be found to ensure that these services stay open.”

l Coun Battye, who already has a monthly ward surgery in Hebden Bridge library, is starting similar service in Todmorden, starting this Saturday, January 24.

She said: “I’ll be there from 10am to 12, in the Community Room. There’ll be a sign by the door.

“People are welcome to just turn up or contact me if they want to book a specific time.”