Kirklees budget 2015: Labour proposals

David Sheard.
David Sheard.

Kirklees Council has already cut £83m from its budget over the past three years but faces cutting back by another £69m in the following three.

The Labour Party’s budget proposals will be debated by full council on Wednesday.

Their plans include increasing council tax by 1.95 per cent.

One of the main areas of saving is in support for children and families in need, with the council determined to work “smarter” to help people. That could save an estimated £12.5m a year.

Reports also show that the level of support offered to people in need will have to be cut, saving another £12m.

Other proposals to be voted on include stopping Dewsbury’s free town bus, closing loss-making markets such as Batley and Birstall, and axing free school bus passes.

Cabinet member for Resources Coun Graham Turner said: “This takes into account the constant unfair cuts from government, and we have worked hard to protect the most vulnerable.”

Leader of the council David Sheard rubbished Tory leader Robert Light’s claims that libraries could be saved without putting up council tax.

Coun Sheard said: “I think he is a deficit denier. He talks about saving our services but doesn’t answer where the money will come from – it’s magic bean accounting.”

Council housing rents would also rise by 2.2 per cent.

Coun Cathy Scott said: “This rise is in line with national guidelines and our medium term business plan. Increasing it by any more would have increased hardship among our most vulnerable communities, but not going for 2.2 per cent would have meant less income to support our strategic priorities going forward.”

Key proposals

• Increasing council tax by 1.95 per cent

• Axing free school bus passes for faith school children, saving nearly half-a-million pounds.

• Stopping Dewsbury’s free town bus.

• Cutting the parks maintenance budget, saving more than £500,000.

• Closing loss-making libraries such as Batley and Birstall.

• Cuts to the Connexions career service.

• Significant reduction of CCTV across the district.

• Reducing enforcement of environmental legislation to control littering, dumping, stray dogs and anti-social behaviour.

• Reducing school crossing patrols.

• Review and reduce arts provision, including probable removal of funding for events and concerts.

• Significant reductions in parks and open spaces and street cleaning budgets.

• Investments totalling £20m will include:

– Improvements to buildings in Dewsbury and Huddersfield town centres and a sports facility in the Spen area.

– Improvements to the Cooper Bridge junction and the A653 Dewsbury to Leeds in conjunction with the West Yorkshire Transport Fund.