Sunday 21 July 2024
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Labour councillors express concerns over proposed cuts that charge people for having a second car

A group of Labour councillors have questioned the effectiveness of a public consultation on plans which could see six children’s centres close and youth provision cut across the city.

Nottingham City Council must find £38m of savings over the next four years – £12.2m has already been identified for this financial year.

The controversial plans include cutting the nine city children’s centres to three, and introducing charging for Nottingham residents for parking second or third cars on their streets.

It also plans to reduce some bus services and charge residents to take away their bulky waste.

There are also plans to slash 91 council posts, 23 of which are vacant.

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A public consultation was launched asking the public to comment on the budget cut proposals, the results of which will be revealed soon.

But councillors sitting on the overview and scrutiny committee, chaired by Labour’s Anne Peach, have prepared a report for a February 7th meeting, questioning how the council has run the survey.

The report will be handed to the executive board of the council, which includes council leader David Mellen.

Councillors say: “The committee felt the consultation process was not sufficiently accessible to a wide enough proportion of the population, especially in deprived communities and communities that will be affected most by proposed budget proposals.

“It was felt that the information provided in the consultation is too generic, with very little information about the nature of what is being proposed and the impact it will have on service provision and individual people/wards. This makes it very difficult for citizens to meaningfully engage with.”

The committee were concerned that if the parking permit scheme were to be introduced – charging residents for having a second and third car – there would be a greater requirement for enforcement.

The committee also stressed: “Concern was expressed that the proposals risked diminishing the networks and community cohesion that has been created and that the proposals didn’t take account of our most deprived and vulnerable citizens who accessed these services most frequently.”

The committee is also concerned about the impact of reducing youth work capacity, as youth workers play a major role in preventing school exclusions.

Speaking to an overview and scrutiny committee in January, Cllr Mellen said there had been many face-to-face sessions and online meetings to discuss the proposals on the table with groups, residents, and organisations.

A decision is due to be made in March.

The Labour-run authority, which is nearly a £1bn in debt, said a reduction in government grants and a rise in the cost of adult and child social care is behind some of the difficult decisions it needs to make.

It says it must cut non-statutory services – those it does not have to provide by law – in order to prop up the rising cost of statutory services, which are deemed essential.

The council is also being watched by government and must show it can reach financial stability over the next four years.

It folows the failure of council-owned Robin Hood Energy, a company which went bust in January 2020, costing taxpayers an anticipated £38m.

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