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Nottingham

Council leader says Nottingham is an ‘ambitious city’ despite £28m cuts needed

Labour councillors backed plans which will see children’s centres close and youth workers cut to achieve £28m of savings this year.

The council will also charge for bulky waste and for parking a second and third car on residential streets.

Bus services will be reduced, a public toilet at Victoria Embankment closed, and community centre grants slashed to save money during this financial year.

The council will also cut 83 of its full-time staff, although 24 of these posts are currently vacant.

The authority also plans to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent for 2022/23.

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Cllr Sam Webster (Lab), portfolio holder for finance, said the cuts were needed due to the rising costs of supporting ‘the most vulnerable’ children in the city and caring for the elderly.

He also said reductions in government cash led to “a significant funding gap”.

He told the Executive Board on Tuesday, February 22: “The city council estimates it will spend £46m more cumulatively on care services for those children who require our support or intervention from council or providing a care service for our elderly residents.

“It is essential the council is in a good financial shape so that our services are there for when people need them most.

“No organisation does more good than the council – our staff know this but in difficult times it is worth reflecting that.

“Today our Nottingham city buses are running, our Theatre Royal is open, our ice centre is operating, thousands of homes are being heated by our district heating network (EnviroEnergy), our leisure centres are open and our care workers are carrying out our vital work.”

But he stressed: “We had to make some very difficult choices.”

The council carried out an eight-week consultation on the proposed savings for this financial year. It had planned to close six of its nine children’s centres.

It has now decided to close only five children’s centres but has not disclosed exactly which ones will go.

It has also decided to retain three additional staff in play and youth services ensuring there are 15 youth workers plus a manager providing city-wide outreach.

The decision has been heavily criticised by some community leaders who feel crime and anti-social behaviour will rise as a result of a limited service.

The council says £28m of savings are needed for 2022/23 rising to £38.1 million in 2025/26.

Cllr David Mellen, leader of the council, added: “We have reduced our debt and are not borrowing as much as we had in the past.

“It does not mean we are not ambitious as a city.

“Between this year and 2026/7 we will be spending £610m on capital projects whether that be new council housing or using our money to adapt properties so our citizens can remain in their homes rather than needing more expensive specialist care.

“Whether it be regeneration in the southside of the city with the new car park opening and there is money in this paper for the fit out of Central Library and to improve our schools.

“We are under a constraint and taking our responsibility to be financial stable seriously but that has not dimmed our ambition for our city and what we want to do to improve it for our citizens.”

The Executive Board passed the savings needed on Tuesday, February 22. It will now go before Full Council in March for full approval.

The planned cuts come while the local authority is being monitored by the government to ensure significant savings are made.

This follows the demise of Robin Hood Energy – a council owned company which went bust in January 2020 and left taxpayers to pick up the anticipated £38m bill.

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