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£93m cuts in Hampshire County Council's budget to be approved
9:01am Thursday 20th February 2014 in News
CUTS worth £93m are to be set today at Hampshire County Council.
Librarians, neighbourhood wardens and lollipop patrols are among those facing the axe as the county authority slashes its budget.
Tory council chiefs are set to put forward the budget plans at a full council meeting which will see 12 per cent shaved off department budgets in the next two years.
Under plans more than 277 full-time posts are expected to be cut by the end of this financial year as the local authority bids to save £43m.
But it is feared the total could be as much as 1,000 because the county council seeks to save another £50m next year.
The council leadership says it has no choice but to make the deep cuts, blaming the reducing Government grant which has shrivelled by 40 per cent over three years.
But unions say the council should dip into its £400million reserves to stave off cutbacks, while the opposition says the service reductions go too far.
Council leader Roy Perry said: “We’re largely seeking to address the reduction in Government grants by reorganising our back office functions and making efficiencies, and doing our level best to keep reductions in front line services to a minimum.
“We intend to freeze council tax for Hampshire, and that is a big contribution to help people’s budgets.
“It will be the fifth year in a row that council tax will not increase, while it means we have the lowest county council tax in the south east and the fourth lowest in the whole country.
“We regularly point out to the Government that Hampshire merits support and I can assure the opposition there is no reluctance to argue our case.”
“The Liberal Democrats will put forward innovate proposals to help save services and invest in the future.”
In their alternative budget, his party would safeguard the Accredited Community Safety Officers (ACSOs), which face being cut.
He added: “The Liberal Democrats will vote to save this vital resource from Conservative cuts.”
Cllr Tony Hooke, deputy leader of the UKIP county council group, said: “We are bitterly disappointed with the way that Hampshire residents are being treated.
“We have made it quite clear that we do not feel the county is safe with these additional cuts.
“Issue after issue will continue to blight this county until we can get sensible leadership.”
Tim Cutter, Hampshire Unison branch secretary, said: “Among the services they are closing are the ACSOs, who have just been working around the clock to help people with the flooding, so it’s a kick in the teeth for them.
“We think the cuts aren’t necessary, the council has more than £400million in reserves, so they should use some of the reserves to stave off the cuts.”