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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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£24m Cumbria budget cuts agreed

A draft budget which will see cuts of £24.4 million made in the next financial year has been agreed by Cumbria County Council's cabinet.

Cumbria County Council logo
Cumbria County Council logo

Members also recommended the authority should not increase its share of the council tax in 2014-15.

Thirty five proposals for making cuts were put out to public consultation last year.

Some of these have been altered; changes to the fire service, new on-street and residents parking charges, cutting all bus subsidies, stopping post-16 travel assistance for new students and reducing the council's scrutiny role.

As part of these changes, proposals to remove second fire engines from stations in Penrith, Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport and Kendal will now not go ahead.

However, revised arrangements for Barrow and the wider Furness peninsula will see Barrow’s second full-time crewed engine moved to Ulverston, as originally proposed, but with the current Dalton engine relocated to Barrow and designated as a ‘resilience’ pump available to respond to major incidents.

Parking charges were originally set to be introduced to busy high streets and other popular areas. The authority has now agreed to provide £300,000 for a phased approach, which will see engineers carrying out surveys and recommending places where they could be introduced. The money will also allow for the gradual introduction of charging for residents’ parking permits.

The earliest date charging could be implemented is late autumn and it is recommended that the charge for parking permits should be coordinated with on-street charging. When introduced, the charge for a permit this year will be no more than £25.

A further £1m has been put aside to help subsidised bus services this year. The council hopes to see many of these routes handed over entirely to commercial operators.

Parish councils will also be expected to discuss supporting the services with money or volunteers.

The council will stop giving free bus passes to students over who are more than 16-years-old from autumn but will not cancel any that have already been issued. Schools are set to be encouraged to make their own arrangements with bus companies.

Members also agreed on a set of priorities for the next year. These include creating a "living wage" for council staff, more investment in schools with priority given to those with the greatest need, improving flood plans, keeping roads in shape, cutting running costs and sharing the council's health and social cure duties with the NHS.

Savings put forward include cutting back office costs, trying to prevent health and safety problems and working with other groups on some issues.

The authority needs to save £89 million from its budget by 2017.

Councillor Jo Stephenson, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, said today: “The scale of the financial challenge facing the county council is unprecedented.

“The county council is at the half way mark in a six year journey that will see its budget reduced by one in every four pounds that it used to receive to pay for local services. In total, this equates to roughly £769 for every household in Cumbria."

This draft budget will be voted on at a meeting of the full council on February 13.

Have your say

its ok..all these cuts wont bother us ..when we get our new sports centre in Workington..silver lining and all that..its only going to cost us about 18m...cheap I say..

Posted by mrs w on 16 June 2014 at 19:34

Mr Jeffrey at my GM council I have been charged £30 per month equivalent (ie the charge goes up from time to time) for the privilege of parking fairly near my work for 10 years.

Big place Manchester and not too easy to walk to work or cycle to except for locally born and bred staff. It's an expensive area for an outsider.The bus takes about a hour 30 each way and I prefer to avoid such a commute. The surrounding areas are resident only parking and you would be taking your life in your hands to park there without a badge.

Hope that anecdote helps. I worked at another council where free parking was on offer but that has been rescinded

ps Graham: to be polite,you completely out of touch and as the cuts deepen I do hope you don't get further isolated.

Posted by David Johnston on 15 February 2014 at 12:08

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