Manchester City Council details £109m saving cuts plan

  • Published

Leisure centres, libraries and public toilets will close as part of a council's plan to make nearly £110m of savings in the next financial year.

Manchester City Council also confirmed 2,000 job losses - 17% of its workforce - as it revealed full details of cuts.

Children's services will be cut by 26%, or £45.1m, but social workers for vulnerable children will be increased, the council said.

It comes as councils around England discuss and set budgets.

Millions of pounds of cuts to jobs and services have been announced by councils and police in North Yorkshire.

It includes plans by North Yorkshire County Council to cut 330 jobs and close nine care homes for elderly people.

Meanwhile, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese described the cuts process at his local authority as "unpalatable".

Savings of £39.5m - or 21% - will be made at adult services where some charges will be introduced.

'Levels of need'

The council needs to make £109m of savings over the next financial year, rising to £170m in 2012/13.

It said 41% of job losses would be among managers.

Publishing the budget on its website the council revealed that despite the cuts it will "be increasing our budget for looked after children by more than £6m, in recognition of the levels of need that exist in Manchester".

Savings in adult services will be made by asking community groups or partner agencies to take over.

All public toilets will close, except those on Mount Street, and swimming pools at Levenshulme and Miles Platting will shut.

Five smaller libraries will close at Clayton, Miles Platting, East City in Openshaw, Rackhouse in Wythenshawe and Barlow Moor in Chorlton, while youth centres will be taken over by voluntary groups.

Staff at Surestart centres will also lose their posts as the council transfers early years provision to "external partners".

General waste collection will be collected fortnightly rather than weekly and streets will no longer be cleaned overnight.

Free parking on Sundays will end and on-street charging will be extended to 12 hours between from 0700 to 1900.

The annual Lord's Mayor reception will no longer take place and other events will be lost or scaled back.

The council said that the threatened closures of Arcadia, Ardwick and Ten Acres leisure centres and Debdale Sailing Centre may be avoided if it can arrange a management deal with external partners.

'Cynical move'

Jobs will be lost across all departments. Savings of £5m will be made by merging the separate town hall teams that oversee street management, highways and repairs.

The council said all its support services and corporate property were being restructured to shed jobs.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said: "Putting this budget together has involved the most difficult, and in many ways, most unpalatable process I have been involved in since I was first elected to the council.

"I cannot and will not pretend that the financial position in which we have been placed is anything other than bad news.

"Manchester is the fourth most deprived local authority area in the country but is among the top five hardest hit local authorities.

"But we are doing everything we can to protect and maintain the services which people need."

Local government minister Grant Shapps said: "This is a cynical move by a Labour council, which is intentionally cutting front-line services and playing politics with people lives.

"Far more could be done by the council to share back office services with other councils across the new Greater Manchester combined authority.

"You only have to look next door to Trafford to see how more innovative councils are taking steps to protect the front line."

The final budget will be decided at the full council meeting on 9 March.

Elsewhere, unions have been protesting outside East Sussex County Hall, where the council is meeting to approve £37m cuts for next year. It includes plans to reduce spending on children's services by £20m.

Union activists have also held demonstrations outside Surrey County Council offices where the budget is being set.

Unite and Unison say the £200m proposed cuts would "slash services".

And on Monday, Wakefield Council said it would axe a tenth of its workforce, with some compulsory redundancies, in its bid to save £67m by 2015.

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