VIDEO: Ashfield Festival faces axe in budget cuts

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Ashfield’s showcase event, the Ashfield Festival, may be scrapped as part of council plans to try and balance its books in the face of a cut in central Government funding.

Ashfield District Council has launched a public consultation on 14 ideas that it has put forward to save £1.1m during the financial year 2014/15 - and is looking for residents views’ on the proposals.

Ceasing the Ashfield Festival would save £72,000, while other areas where savings could be made include: closing the cafés in parks - saving £74,000, closing council cash offices - saving £93,000, cutting four Community Protection Officer posts - saving £111,000 and closing council-owned public toilets - saving £55,000.

Coun Chris Baron, Ashfield District Council, said that the cuts are needed because of the ‘unprecedented’ reduction in the amount of funding the authority receives from central Government.

“This is not what any elected member was elected to do or stood to do but we have to use our fiscal duty and responsibility,” he said.

“We have deliberately given examples of the discretionary services we provide.

“Some might be controversial, but some perhaps make common sense.”

Ashfield District Council is expecting cuts of 36 per cent in the support it receives from central Government between now and 2018/19.

It currently receives around £10m, but this will go down to £6m.

It is asking residents across the district to take part in a survey about the proposals and to put forward any other ideas of where money can be saved.

Other proposals include ceasing or reducing the provision of Christmas trees and lights, closing Huthwaite Leisure Centre and stopping the pest control service, as well as putting up council tax by two per cent.

Coun Baron said that any ideas that are ‘outside the box’ are welcome and people have until 6th December to respond.

Dave Greenwood, deputy chief executive, said: “Even if all these proposals are agreed, we think that 20 jobs will be at risk.

“We are trying to do as much as we can to minimise compulsory job losses.”

The survey is available on the council’s website at www.ashfield-dc.gov.uk and paper copies are available from the receptions of council offices.

Respondents will be entered into a prize draw for £50 of shopping vouchers.

Coun Baron added: “I would stress that no decision have been made and that we are keen to listen to our residents’ views and understand what is important to them.”