Sunday 14 April 2024
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Nottingham

Nottingham: Cuts to services will damage ‘fabric of the city’ says protesters

Residents, students and Nottingham City Council staff say proposed cuts to services will tear apart communities and remove vital lifelines for the most vulnerable.

Nottingham City Council officers have proposed a series of cuts to services and jobs amid £53m budget gap in the year beginning April 2024, while the cumulative financial challenge is expected to reach £172m by 2028.

A separate £23m in-year budget gap also led to the issuing of a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy, in November.

The proposals are expected to result in a total of 554 job losses.

Under the plans, which executive councillors refused to recommend during a meeting at the Council House on Tuesday (February 13), the library service will again be reviewed in a bid to save £1.5m.

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Council leader Cllr David Mellen (Lab) said while the review was not yet defined, “if we think that we are going to get more than a million pounds out of our libraries without closing some of them, then we are not living in the real world”.

Speaking at a protest outside the Council House, Des Conway, a campaigner for the Save Nottingham Libraries group which helped stop the closure of the Aspley, Basford and Radford-Lenton libraries in 2022, said: “Unfortunately there is going to be another review of our libraries service despite our magnificent campaign.

“It looks like they are going to revisit the whole libraries thing.

“What is behind all of this stuff is Government underfunding of local services across the country, not just in Nottingham but in Derby, Leicester, Sheffield and Birmingham which has also got a Section 114 notice.

“The scale of the cuts this time are unprecedented, there are going to be care homes shut, libraries shut, leisure centres, museums, all places where people get enjoyment out of life.”

Niamh Iliff is an organiser for the newly established Save Our Services group and studies politics at the University of Nottingham.

Having grown up in Birmingham, where the council has also issued a Section 114 notice amid huge financial challenges, she said: “Student youth centres, community protection officers to adult residential care and even care homes, everyone is being directly impacted.

“The knock-on effects of that is the community being torn apart, the pillars that tie us together are being shattered completely by these cuts. What are they going to leave our city looking like? It is dreadful.”

In the adult social care department, it is proposed all grant funding for lunch clubs for vulnerable adults will cease, The Oaks and Cherry Trees residential care homes will close at a loss of 88 jobs, while the Jackdawe in-house dementia care service and the Barkla Close residential respite care for adults with learning disabilities will also shut.

Clare Healy, 51, who works as a community care officer at the Mary Potter Centre, said: “People who go to lunch clubs, that is a vital lifeline for many people, it prevents loneliness and keeps social interaction, is good for your cognition, but also people notice when people are declining, so that is a real worry that we will miss people with advancing dementia until they are in a real crisis.

“The care homes that are proposed to be cut, both are places where we used to discharge people to from the hospitals. So there will be fewer places available to prevent bed-blocking further up the line at the QMC and the City Hospital.

“Next year there are 44 full-time equivalent posts due to go from my department. We are the people who assess people’s care needs to come out of hospital or to go into care homes, we can also refer to services like the lunch clubs that simply won’t exist.

“It is going to be a real detriment to the fabric of the city.”

Having refused to recommend the proposals, councillors are now taking legal advice and a final decision is expected to be made at Full Council in March.

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