Sheard: People must face true scale of cuts

UNDER THREAT Batley Market would close under the proposals.
UNDER THREAT Batley Market would close under the proposals.

Kirklees Council leader David Sheard has made an impassioned plea for people to truly realise the scale of cuts the authority is facing.

Coun Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) said the council was being forced to cut services because so much of their cash is spent on protecting adults and young people.

He made the comments on Tuesday at a Kirklees Council Cabinet meeting, during which councillors agreed to ask the public for ideas on how to slash £69m from the budget over the next three years.

Coun Sheard, who became visibly upset by the end of the meeting, said: “This council spends a quarter of a billion pounds per year on looking after older people and children in care – we spend £70m on the entire Place directorate.

“By 2021, the council will not be able to pay for the people we have in care. Not many people take into account the children we are protecting from violent parents, the children who have no parents. In the past we’ve had some people who cost us £100,000 per year to keep alive. The biggest cuts we have to make are for looking after people. To concentrate on a couple of market stalls as opposed to kids in homes – I think people need to get a grip on reality.”

No final decisions on the budget have yet been made. The council has put its proposals out to consultation and will take on board feedback before the final budget is made in February 2015. 
The proposals include:

A council tax rise of anything up to five per cent.

Closing Birstall and Batley’s markets.

Cutting Dewsbury’s free town bus.

Drastic cuts to funding for museums, libraries, public halls, school crossing patrols and parks.