Northamptonshire County Council announces £68m of cuts

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About 600 people are set to lose their jobs at Northamptonshire County Council as part of its plans to save £68m in 2011 after a cut in government funding.

The Conservative's budget plans call for closure of eight libraries and cuts in funding for school crossing patrols.

The council said it aimed to save a total of £136m over the next four years - which means more job cuts are likely.

The Lib Dem opposition said £15m of cuts are not identified and figures are needed before consultation starts.

Local people are soon to be consulted for their views on the budget.

'Crumbling roads'

A final decision on the budget, which includes a freeze in council tax, will be made by a full meeting of the council in February next year.

A council spokeswoman said the budget also put £30m aside to repair the county's "crumbling roads" and provides extra investment for the growing numbers of older people.

It also provides an extra £2m to help attract new businesses.

Leader of the council Jim Harker said: "More and more people are in need of our services while our income from government is being dramatically reduced meaning we need to find savings of £136m in the next few years.

'Least used libraries'

"This budget shows how we will do this. We will focus our investment on those areas which we have been told time and time again are most important to people.

"We are proposing a huge highways repair blitz, we are investing to help us cope with increased demand from our vulnerable adults and for the children and young people in our communities.

"We are committing ourselves to work alongside the private sector to create jobs and prosperity in the county."

A review of the library service is being proposed.

This will look at the proposed closure of up to eight of those libraries, which are mostly used by people who also use other libraries.

Cabinet member for finance Bill Parker said: "Tough decisions need to be made and I am confident that the proposals hit the right balance."

Leader of the Lib Dem opposition Brendan Glynane said he had looked through the budget proposals and found in an appendix that £15m of savings had not been allocated.

"We just do not know where these cuts are going to be made.

"How can a consultation with the people of Northampton start when some of the figures are missing. They need to know where the cuts are to be made," he said.

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