Another 50 jobs to be slashed in £5m Blackpool Council cuts

Coun Simon Blackburn

Coun Simon Blackburn

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Another 50 jobs are set to be slashed by Blackpool Council which today revealed details of an additional £5m of budget savings.

The latest round of cuts is on top of 250 posts already being axed as part of a £20m reduction in spending announced last November.

Every one of the people that will leave the council this year is a valued member of staff

The job losses will come from all areas of the authority.

Services facing review include libraries, which are already poised to have their opening hours scaled back to save £85,000.

Residents could be asked to pay a small subscription in future in order to access the full library service.

It is proposed to take £700,000 out of the community and environmental services budget, which includes street cleansing, with more work being done in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy instead.

Tougher measures could include fining litter louts in order to prevent rubbish being dropped.

Also facing further cuts are adult services which is set to lose £750,000 including a reduction of 20 per cent in the support given to housing support services which run facilities such as hostels.

A sum of £1.3m will be taken out of reserves, while additional income includes £100,000 profit from the council-owned Sandcastle Waterpark.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said tough decisions had had to be made in order to balance the books while still meeting the council’s main responsibilities.

He said: “For every person that loses their job, that is a big calamity for them and their family, and for every service user who can’t access their service, that is terrible for them.

“Every one of the people that will leave the council this year is a really valued member of staff, and not just valued by the council but by the residents and visitors.

“So to discover there is at least another £5m of cuts required is soul-destroying.

“We have had to go back since Christmas to look at where we can get that extra £5m from.

“All we can try and do is look at what as a local authority we are legally responsible for, what can maybe be done by people other than the council, and what we can do to make sure residents of Blackpool can still access services that are important to them where we can save money on delivery.”

A number of roles will be consolidated while many vacancies will not be filled.

Last month Coun Blackburn had warned leisure services and libraries could face cuts, but they have mainly been protected.

However he added: “While we want to keep the basic library service free, we are thinking about whether people would be prepared to pay say £2 a month to access the full library service and save them from future cuts.”

In order to ease the pressure on street cleansing, tougher enforcement against litter louts could be introduced.

The council leader warned: “We are thinking more about enforcement. If we are a bit more robust about tackling people and fining people who drop litter then perhaps we won’t have to go out as often to clean up the mess.”

Meanwhile reserves will be dipped into in order to protect services for some of the town’s most vulnerable.

Coun Blackburn said: “A sum of £1.3m from reserves is being put in.

“It is a very short term fix but we were getting into making some very difficult decisions affecting the most vulnerable people, for example changes to services for people with disabilities.”

Also proposed is to take £275,000 out of childrens services with measures including retendering the special educational needs transport contract and reviewing the School Improvement Service in view of the fact nearly all Blackpool’s secondary schools are now academies.

Other additional savings include £500,000 from public health, and £300,000 from corporate savings including a review of essential car user allowances.

The latest proposals take the total cuts from the 2016/17 budget to £25m with 300 job losses, which includes 50 contracts being ended.

The additional £5m of savings required was revealed in January after the council received its government settlement for 2016/17 which had been reduced by 4.9 per cent compared to the current year.