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Axe set to fall across Torbay in largest cuts to public spending and local government in years

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

  • cuts: Stopping Brixham park and ride to save £20,000 is proposed

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MAYOR Gordon Oliver is proposing to cut £10million from council services next year.

Torbay Council still has to wait to hear the final sum in local government funding expected to be finalised around the end of next month.

But the overall target revenue budget figure is currently £127.97million, compared with £137million this year.

The proposals will be considered by the overview and scrutiny board which will report back to the mayor in February and there will be further consultation with services users affected by specific proposals whose reaction will be considered by the council in February.

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Councillors are being fully briefed over the next few weeks. Officers were this week unable to provide to the Herald Express the budget figures for each of the services cut.

The mayor is proposing to reduce the adult social care budget by £2.16million. The biggest cut proposed is £870,00 from care provided at home, partly through closer working with the voluntary and independent sector to help meet needs for low-level support.

This could also include £645,000 cuts in staff costs by using them more efficiently, reducing frontline staffing levels and reducing support functions by using greater automation.

The cuts could include a £285,000 reduction in care home placement as such placements have reduced by a quarter since 2006, and the Hayes Road extra care housing development will open next year enabling people to stay independent for longer.

Closing the Fairwinds day service for people with learning disabilities in 2012 will save £275,000 during the year.

A £60,000 cut in supporting carers is proposed while maximising the use of the voluntary and third sectors, and a £25,000 cut in the cost of community alarms by charging for them after three months.

It is proposed to cut £1.48million from residents' and visitors' services and increase income by £50,000.

The proposals are cutting £142,000 from beach services with the warning that beaches may no longer meet the Blue Flag criteria, and cutting £50,000 from theatre, arts, events and sports services with the potential loss of some expertise.

Among the cuts proposed are £80,000 from reduced maintenance on roads, car parks, corporate security and CCTV could be cut by £30,000 with a reduction in service, reducing illuminations by £10,000 with the warning that it could be seen as affecting tourism.

Stopping Brixham park and ride to save £20,000 is proposed with the warning this could increase congestion in the town, replacing the ring and ride service with alternative forms of transport could save £50,000 with the warning that if alternatives are provided the demand could increase.

It is also proposed to reduce less popular subsidised bus routes with the potential loss of services.

Libraries may have to find £84,000 cuts including reducing the new books, DVDs and CDs available. £20,000 has already been saved on staffing.

£100,000 could be shaved from the running costs of Torre Abbey when it reopens, which may reduce opening hours.

It is proposed to amalgamate the car parking and parking enforcement service to save £35,000 with a potential loss of income.

An increase in the areas where motorists are charged to park is proposed saving £50,000.

The mayor is considering streamlining processes at Tor2 and Torquay North maintenance contractors Glendale to save £500,000, and look at efficiencies in both organisations to achieve savings without affecting services such as toilets, recreation and landscape services and cleaning.

However, there is a potential reduction in service such as grass cutting timings.

He is also proposing a £119,000 reduction in management and support in the department, and a £95,000 cut in the grants to organisations.

The supporting people department could be cut by £1.5million with £830,000 taken from the service being redesigned to improve effectiveness through contract re-negotiation and finding new service providers.

The Accommodation Plus service to provide supportive landlords could be cut by £200,000 by providing an alternative service.

The specific support programme for offenders could be halted to save £170,000 with offenders being helped by support provided for others while training staff to meet their needs.

Some £200,000 could be cut from the support provided for social inclusion, and the council is looking at the service provided at the Cumberland Complex of licensed houses in multiple occupation to save £100,000 while continuing to meet client needs.

A cut of £1.36million is proposed to the largest budget of children's services.

This includes £50,000 from the youth offending team which councillors are warned could increase case loads and reduce preventative work and £110,000 from the Neighbourhood Youth Team which could hit voluntary and community sector schemes.

The service will be restructured so that there will not be any reduction in capacity or opening hours.

Housing support could be reduced by £94,000 with the warning this could hit preventative work for example avoiding homelessness.

The budget for supporting children and families in local areas could be cut by £398,000.

This includes targeted youth support, family support and family intervention project, attendance improvement services, hand in hand volunteering services and Careers South West.

Officers warn services could be reduced and a reduction in preventative measures could increase workload.

Intensive family support could be cut by £50,000 and £30,000 less made available for the voluntary sector to support the services they run.

Support for schools such as early years work and home to school transport could be cut by £391,000.

The cuts would include £240,000 from business support and commissioning which it is warned could affect the delivery of services and projects across the department and reduce support and materials.

Torbay Development Agency is facing a cut of £525,000, including £110,000 reduction in repairs and maintenance of council properties.

Officers warn that significant progress has been made in recent years to reduce repairs for example at Torre Abbey, Rock Walk and Torquay seafront, but they say there is no immediate risk of major problems.

They are expected to save £125,000 through the office rationalisation project, for example leaving Oldway Mansion. They are expected to raise £100,000 themselves.

Spatial planning and waste is expected to save £360,000 for example through encouraging increased recycling, and receiving £50,000 from the Government for Neighbourhood Planning.

Community safety is proposed to save £584,000 including £84,100 from community group support, £89,000 from community protection services such as monitoring air quality and land contamination, £124,800 from food, health and safety, trading standards and licensing and £156,600 from safer communities Torbay.

Financial services is facing a £250,000 cut in support and advice at a time when the council is implementing local council tax scheme and universal credit.

£35,000 has been saved by working with others on auditing services in the Devon Audit Partnership.

In commercial services, a £300,000 cut is proposed including in the governance support and communications team through not filling vacant posts, with warnings it could delay services such as legal advice, and support to councillors and officers and a reduction in the communications team could limit the amount of communications within the council and also with the community.

Torbay Council is being asked at its meeting today to agree to a reduction in discounts on council tax for certain properties.

For example, the 10 per cent discount for second homes and for unoccupied and substantially unfurnished is proposed to be reduced to zero.

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  • nicold  |  December 06 2012, 3:34PM

    Up the Council tax for the rich people and not cut money for the poor and disabled! It's even obvious to a fool!

    |   5
  • Cruey  |  December 06 2012, 2:27PM

    How sad that once again the vunerable are being targeted in the budget... charging for community alarms....closing Fairwinds day service ..£60,000 cut in supporting carers ...cut of £1.36million is proposed to the largest budget of children's services..£870,00 from care provided at home....can they really not see that if this goes ahead there will be an even greater cost in the long term to the council....I am appalledat the lack of care and consideration given to our elderly and disabled people in Torbay .... after the very poor reports over the last couple of years .says it all really ...not a clue

    |   9
  • Sinjis_Things  |  December 06 2012, 1:02PM

    Have the councillors agreed to take reduced expenses or pay or are they acting in the same way as MPs and saying that we're all in it together and then not taking reductions in their pay etc?

    |   2
  • TorbayLuvva  |  December 06 2012, 10:02AM

    Regarding Brixham, I expect the Council will impose planning conditions requiring the developer to fund a park and ride facility and other measures while the town centre car park is out of action. Agree about the palm tree - would have been much better to put the £20K towards keeping Shoalstone Pool open for the use of residents and tourists alike. Plans are afoot for a fast ferry service from Torquay to Brixham, so why not advertise this unique open air pool in Torquay as another reason to take the ferry to Brixham for the day?

    |   8
  • arf2012  |  December 06 2012, 8:55AM

    Nice to see Brixham is treated as the poor neighbour yet again. Torquay have £20,000 spent on a ridiculous tree and Brixham looses a £20,000 park and ride scheme which gets people into the town and boosts the areas economy. Where on earth are people meant to park when the redevelopment work in the town starts. Whats the point even, because Torbay Council is obviously trying to totally kill the town off.

    |   6
  • spindleshanks  |  December 06 2012, 8:29AM

    Perhaps a council tax rate of 150% for unoccupied properties in Torbay may encourage some of them to be brought back into use and used to house people on waiting lists, while taking pressure off the number of new builds required in the area?

    |   8