Cash-strapped Nottinghamshire County Council has warned residents in Mansfield and Ashfield to prepare for savage cuts to services, up to 800 further council job losses and a hike in their council tax as the council is forced to slash a staggering £154 million from its budget.
The bleak predictions were made last night as the council released their controversial proposals for the next three years.
And council chiefs have been quick to apologise for the cuts - which are the most brutal in the council’s history - that could have a devastating affect across the county, but insist they have been left with little option.
Leader of the council, Coun Alan Rhodes said: “I am angry that we have been forced into this position, not of our making, which gives us no choice but to cut vital services and further reduce our workforce.
“We have made the extremely difficult decision to recommend an increase in council tax. I hope our residents understand that this is not something we do lightly, especially in the current economic climate, but it will make a difference in protecting at least some of the services at threat.
“However, greater efficiencies and increasing council tax will only go so far and we are left with no option but to make significant service cuts.
“We have also made the extremely difficult decision to recommend an increase in council tax. I hope our residents understand that this is not something we do lightly, especially in the current economic climate, but it will make a difference in protecting at least some of the services at threat.
“In putting these proposals together, we have attempted to apply an ethos of fairness in difficult times and maintain services in those areas of greatest need wherever possible. I do appreciate though that this is little consultation to those service users and employees who are adversely affected, and for that, I am extremely sorry.”
More than 122 budget proposals have been put forward which the council saying will affect all council service areas, including adult support, school meals, care for the disabled, waste and recycling, highway maintenance and libraries.
And the massive cuts are destined to affect services across the Mansfield and Ashfield districts.
The council is yet to pinpoint exactly where all of the cuts and departments in which job losses will be made, but some details have been released.
Under the sweeping proposals, council responsibility for some smaller libraries could be relinquished, with community groups encouraged to take control. One mooted during the meeting was Annesley Woodhouse, another possibility is Rainworth, although nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
The Phoenix Project, which offers assembly/package-work training for people with learning disabilities and is based on Mansfield’s Enterprise Close, and supports up to 17 people, is to be scrapped.
The Strawberry Fayre cafe, at King’s Mill Reservoir, could also face closure.
However, Mansfield and Ashfield has been earmarked for a new ‘super site’ waste management plant with hopes that it could increase recycling by 50 per cent, although specific details are yet to be released.
A spokesman said: “Although the siting of the new centre is not yet determined, the county council will work closely with both Ashfield District Council and Mansfield District Council to make sure that it is in the right location with good access for local people.”
-Council tax is set to rise between 1.99 per cent and 5 percent. At 1.99 per cent, it would be a 38p a week increase for the average householder. It is the first council tax increase in four years.
-School meals are set to increase from £2 to £2.10.
-Charges for blue badges for disabled people will rise by 500 per cent from £2 to £10.
-Bus services in the area set to be reduced, with early morning, late night and weekend services most at risk of being cut.
-Reduced youth services, including the closure of some youth clubs and reduction of the mobile youth service operating from 42 weeks to 37 week a year.
-Smaller libraries could be encouraged to be taken on by community groups, such as parish councils, with the county council relinquishing control.
-The promise that potholes will be temporarily filled within 48 hours of being reported is to be scrapped. The council says they will take longer to fill, but will be permanent repairs.
- £590m is spent each year on services, £274m from council tax, £238m from the Government and £78m from other grant income and reserves.
- £388m is spent on care for adults and children and £92m for roads, waste and environment.
- By 2017, there will be a predicted £154m budget shortfall which includes a £79m reduction in Government grant and £23m inflation costs.
- The council workforce costs £205m, more than 40 per cent of the total budget.
- There are 3,000 less people employed by Nottinghamshire County Council now than there were in 2010. A further 800 job losses are predicted to help balance the books.