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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Carlisle council agrees cuts to play parks

The leader of Carlisle City Council said “tough choices” had to be made as a budget was set bringing in new developments – but which will also lead to controversial changes at play parks.

Colin Glover photo
Colin Glover

Colin Glover said the authority was sometimes making decisions it “would really rather not have to take” as he spoke of the impact of cuts at a meeting agreeing spending for the next year.

Cash will be spent on projects including a new arts centre at Rickergate, improvements at the Old Town Hall and a school scheme in Harraby.

There will also be a freeze on council tax for two years.

But the authority says it needs to make millions of pounds in savings in the coming years.

Other measures in the budget will see 21 city parks stripped of play equipment to save cash, a move that has prompted protests.

The council says it is also investing in other parks.

In a meeting of the city council at Carlisle Civic Centre, Mr Glover, who represents Labour in Currock, said: “The budget proposed includes amendments to freeze council tax, not just for this year but for 2015/16 as well.

“It also includes the amendment to freeze councillor allowances.

“This budget balances the need to deliver important frontline services, make the savings that have been forced upon us and to build a vibrant, confident city that will grow and deliver for people now and for generations to come.

“We are having to make tough choices, sometimes decisions that we would really rather not have to take but are being forced into due to Government policy. We are also keen to support business and tourism by freezing car parking charges.”

Gareth Ellis, Conservative councillor for Belah and deputy leader of the Conservative group, said: “When it comes to the council’s pet projects, money is no object.

“They talk about vibrant sports facilities but they are closing kiddies’ play areas.”

Conservative group leader John Mallinson defended the track record of the Government, saying thousands of people had seen a cut in income tax or had been taken out of income tax altogether.

Robert Betton, independent councillor for Botcherby, said: “The only good thing that is in this budget for my constituency is the council tax freeze.”

Elsie Martlew, deputy leader of the council and Labour councillor for the Castle ward, said she was “really proud” of the budget, adding the people of Carlisle deserved the new developments.

The budget was approved by 29 votes to 22. The total budget for the next financial year is about £13 million.

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