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TORBAY BUDGET: Jobs will go and services will be lost if £22m cuts go through

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

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THE impact budget cuts will have on some of Torbay's most valued frontline services such as street repairs, parks, countryside, tourism and libraries have been laid bare.

Jobs will be lost and services reduced if the £22million budget reductions are agreed, councillors have been warned.

Scrutiny councillors discussed cuts proposed to the English Riviera Tourism Company, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, the Acorn Centre, highways, environment and sports services and libraries.

The Riviera International Conference Centre is facing a £50,000 cut, the English Riviera Tourism Company and Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust are each facing £100,000 cuts and the libraries £364,500 over the next two years.

Members of the priorities and resources review panel were also discussing a proposed £230,000 reduction in highways maintenance, £70,000 in parks and open spaces, and £50,000 in 2015/16 from the Acorn Centre in Barton.

Bosses of the tourism company called for the proposed cut to be halved to £50,000 over two years to give them the time to develop a Bay-wide tourism Business Improvement District to raise income.

Otherwise it could mean cutting all national marketing and the closure of the Torquay visitor information centre. ERTC chairman Chris Hart warned dramatic cuts to resort marketing could impact on the resort's reputation and attractiveness to future industry investors.

ERTC chief executive Carolyn Custerson said authorities in other comparable resort areas like Bournemouth were not proposing such cuts.

The ERTC is spending double what the council had previously spent on marketing. Councillors discussed the options for TCCT to increase its income, but were warned two years of £50,000 cuts would lead to the loss of a ranger post and hit maintenance standards.

Council officer Charles Uzzell said the committee report was incorrect to state the trust is planning a commercial development in the short to medium term at Occombe Farm and it had not been formally agreed it would hand back leases on some sites identified for possible development.

Mayor Gordon Oliver said the trust had been very successful, particularly in attracting over £8milllion in external investment for the Bay. He said the 700 acres of farmland should provide a substantial income.

Cllr Alan Tyerman, a trustee of TCCT, said trustees had 'major concerns' about the impact on service levels if the £100,000 cut goes ahead.

A bid to merge Torbay Council libraries with Devon County Council to protect services has been abandoned. Now Torbay is going out to consultation to establish what residents want from their libraries.

Friends of Brixham and Torquay library made impassioned pleas about the value of the libraries. Brixham councillor Vic Ellery described them as the 'heartbeat of the community'. Jack Critchlow said Torquay library was visited by around 4,000 people a week.

Jenny Harriman said salami slicing of budgets could destroy the library service.

Sue Cheriton, head of residents and visitors services, said they were in discussions with other bodies about getting more community use in the libraries.

Mayor Oliver said they wanted to keep the four libraries open.

Torbay has a £35million backlog of road repairs and members were warned road maintenance levels and services will be reduced.

It is hoped private sector sponsorship could offset the cuts which may lead to reductions in grass cutting, maintenance of flower beds and the Bay Blooms awards.

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2 comments

  • tabasco2152  |  January 31 2014, 11:28AM

    There must be more thought to alternative funding for vital services.

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  • TheLoveTank  |  January 16 2014, 9:32AM

    Cutting services that add value to the bay are a false economy. Bringing in benefit tourists to use drug rehab facilities at the publics expense are a false economy.

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