Cuts will affect ‘every service council offers’

CASH WOES Coun David Sheard
CASH WOES Coun David Sheard

Frontline services provided by Kirklees Council are under threat as the authority revealed it needs to save tens of millions of pounds over the next few years.

A leading councillor this week warned that cuts of £129m will have to be made to balance the books over the period 2011 to 2017.

Deputy leader of Kirklees Council Coun David Sheard said he was concerned the public did not understand the scale of the cuts. By the end of 2014 the council predicts it will achieve the £62m of savings it was expected to – but that is less than half the target.

Coun Sheard said: “Central government is telling us we have got to fund services, they’re giving us less money to do it and we have to find the saving somewhere.”

No details were released about where exactly the cuts will fall when Kirklees Cabinet looked at its medium term financial plan on Tuesday – but council tax rises look likely to remain at about two per cent each year.

Coun Karen Rowling (Lab, Dew West) said: “The fears about the cuts are absolutely enormous. They are going to impact on every service the council offers.

“The long-term impact is going to be catastrophic, especially in Dewsbury.”

Coun Rowling added that the cuts were being imposed from central government and were disproportionately affecting people in the north, with Kirklees residents set to lose £70-£90 per person.

Kirklees and Mirfield town councillor Vivien Lees-Hamilton said she feared worse to come for Mirfield.

She said: “The public loos have already been shut down after budget cuts.

“People are quite rightly looking around and asking what else that has been given to Mirfield that Kirklees might try to sell off. The money has got to come from somewhere but we have got to have frontline services.”

Coun Lees-Hamilton also fears Mirfield library could be in the firing line as part of a Kirklees library review.

The February 2014 full council meeting is set to debate the budget.