|The News Line: News
Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Fresh Tory council cuts – Vital services axed
THE NEW financial year has kicked in, and with every council budget being cut to the bone the future of leisure centres, council run bus services, youth centres, libraries and bin collections are all under threat.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils, warned yesterday: ‘The money local government has to maintain the services our communities rely on is running out fast, and huge uncertainty remains about how local services will be paid for into the next decade.’
All over the UK councils are passing on the new Tory cuts to their budgets for 2019/20 by axing vital services. Yesterday, in a bid to ‘save’ more than £450,000, Shropshire Council announced plans to axe bus routes.
But the council is split with some councillors opposed to the move, insisting it will put vulnerable people at risk. Councillor Jonny Keeley said: ‘First the council strips away essential services claiming we can travel to use these in larger towns, then they propose to considerably reduce our bus service which will isolate people and reduce options for commuters, students and hospital visits.
‘Only recently, axed children’s services were removed from Crowgate in Bishops Castle to Shrewsbury. Many of the families now have to use the bus to access this service. These cuts are affecting many parts of Shropshire but I believe Bishops Castle is among those areas hit the hardest as we are a very long way from hospitals, colleges and other services.’
In Wales, Pontllanfraith leisure centre is now set to close by the end of June, despite fierce opposition from locals who say that its closure would ‘kill communities’. Caerphilly council claim the facility is ‘too expensive to run’. Youth are particularly angry at the proposed closure as its 3G football pitch is well used.
Blackwood Independent councillor Kevin Etheridge disagreed with his council’s decision. He said: ‘It’s death by a thousand cuts. The community will suffer dramatically if that leisure centre closes.’
Meanwhile last Saturday, over 500 people marched through the streets of Welshpool in Powys after the council announced the closure of their local library. In Kent the local councils have been flogging off their public services, land and property for the last four years in what has been described as a fire sale.
Research by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism shows that the sale of land and public assets like libraries and community centres has made councils across Kent at least £102m over the last four years. A total of 342 sites, including parks, youth centres and libraries have been sold off by local authorities and the county council since 2014.
• Just one in six councils in the UK still collects rubbish every week, new research has shown, with at least 10 authorities switching to fortnightly rounds, and 15 councils moving to collecting rubbish once every three weeks. Some councils, such as Falkirk and Conwy, have moved to monthly collections, leading to fears of rotting rubbish and the rise of cockroaches and rats.
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