Lancashire councillors approve £77m of service cuts

Geoff Driver
Image caption Geoff Driver said he had proposed the council tax increase with "some reluctance"

Lancashire councillors have agreed to raise council tax at the same time as approving £77m of service cuts.

The axe is set to fall on household waste recycling centres, welfare advice services, Special Educational Needs and disability services.

Conservative leader Geoff Driver said the savings will be implemented later this year, subject to consultation.

Labour opposition leader Azhar Ali said the budget will "sink communities" and "lead to the loss of lives".

The Lancashire County Council budget will also see council tax rise by 3.99 percent - the maximum allowed without a referendum - adding £52 the annual bill of a Band D household.

Savings options include plans to withdraw a scheme which provides respite for the parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.   

But Mr Driver said: "I can assure councillors and those wishing to let us have their views, that we have sufficient flexibility in the budget to amend it if we are persuaded to do so by the result of the opinions expressed."

Image caption Opposition leader Azhar Ali said the most vulnerable would suffer in the proposals

About £6.5m of the savings depend on the outcome of the public consultation, including plans to end the Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Service for those facing health and social issues.

The remainder can start to be implemented from April after the council approved the ruling group's plans on Thursday evening.

Mr Ali dubbed the budget as the "Tories' Valentine's Day Massacre".

He added: "It is a massacre that will lead to more pain for the sick, elderly, disabled and weak. People will die as a result of some of these cuts."

Mr Driver said he had proposed the council tax increase with "some reluctance" and added that the authority had to see if it could be more efficient.

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