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Torbay Council budget branded 'disastrous'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 08, 2012

Torquay Town Hall

Torquay Town Hall

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TORBAY' Council's budget — facing £10million cuts — has been branded 'disastrous'.

Details have been revealed for the first time of where the axe may fall and the possibility of a two per cent council tax rise, depending on the Government funding decision due in December.

Brixham's planned park and ride scheme could be one of the victims of the cuts.

Mayor Gordon Oliver, who has put forward the budget for the coming financial year, said the council faced 'an unprecedented challenge' to make huge savings.

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But while many of his fellow councillors accepted that cuts must be made, they expressed serious concerns.

Brixham-based Cllr Mike Morey, leader of the non-coalition group on the council, said the budget 'looks a bit disastrous' and in three or four years' time the council could have 'a major problem making ends meet'. The axe is poised to fall on the council's biggest spenders — adult and children's services including home care, working with families and youth services.

Adult social care is facing a £2.16million reduction, children's services £1.3million, support services for vulnerable people £1.3million and £1.48 million from residents and visitors services.

A whole raft of services are in the firing line including:

Cuts in home care and support for carers.

A reduction in resident services which could threaten Blue Flag beach awards.

Less spending on road maintenance, seafront illuminations and grass cutting.

Cuts to library services.

Increased areas for parking charges.

Less money for school transport.

Deputy Mayor David Thomas explained they had worked on the basis of a two per cent council tax but this depends on the Government funding decision this month and could be less. This year they had had to draw up a draft budget without a 'heads up' on the grant figure from Government.

Labour councillor Darren Cowell claimed the mayor had 'failed in his responsibility to the people that would be affected by the cuts to act in a timely manner'. He said: "The budget needed to come much, much earlier."

Cllr Morey said the main issue was over priorities. He said: "With the little money the Government gives us we have to think about what's essential. The protection of the most vulnerable is most important.

"Gordon Oliver may be concentrating more on palm trees than on children and vulnerable adults.

"He's talking about closing Brixham's park and ride and outdoor swimming pool which is important for tourism."

Councillor Vic Ellery, who represents Brixham's Berry Head with Furzeham ward, said the budget was 'frightening' and the worst he had seen in his 30 years as a councillor.

He said: "It's absolutely dire and we're in big trouble. We've got to fight to save what we can. The decisions are going to affect people's lives and jobs."

Cllr Jackie Stockman, from the same ward, said she had 'grave concerns' about the budget.

She thought it was possible for the council to make savings and maintain services by working 'a little smarter and harder'.

She said: "I'm a little worried about what redundancies there might be across the board. In this low-paid area, we're very reliant on public authorities to enable young people to remain in the area they come from.

"I'm also concerned about the highways budget being reduced as it's an area a lot of people complain about.

"It would be foolish to take away too much voluntary funding because charitable organisations could fold and we would lose a massive amount of support."

Torbay MP Adrian Sanders said the mayor had approached him for help to reduce the cost of the money that the council had borrowed.

He said: "I will do what I can on that and I'm happy to help in any other way I can."

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  • paigntondi  |  December 11 2012, 12:54PM

    Will there be any reduction to the amount of OUR money spent on tourism? see

  • SmithyP  |  December 07 2012, 10:06AM

    The Tories and Lib Dems are having to clear up Labour's mess and if Labour was in power they would also be making massive cuts. Ed Balls shouldn't be allowed near a ministerial job ever again and has no right to preach about what Britain should be doing after the monumental economic mismanagement he helped to orchestrate. However, the pineapple palm tree fiasco shows the level of competency of the leadership in Torbay and Elizabeth Raikes must be creased up with laughter at the ungodly mess she escaped from with over £1m of salary after 7 pointless years at Torbay. Don't worry though the bypass is apparently bringing in £1 billion of new investment to Torbay. Er, right.

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  • spindleshanks  |  December 06 2012, 2:39PM

    I've already bought a pedalo to take advantage of the direct cycle route from Torquay to Brixham. If memory serves me right the reworking of Fleet Street is to cost £3 millions over the next three years and is surely another Rock Walk in the making?

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  • Othursty1  |  December 06 2012, 1:12PM

    Ah Dangerman, you totally win my vote for the funniest joke of the day. However, if you would care to pull your head out of the sand for just an hour or so and look at the news, you'll see most of the developed countries in the Western world are adopting cuts and austerity. Not all these countries can be doing this just to implement Britain's 'ideological view', as you put it, surely!? No, in fact what you see the British government doing right now is damage limitation and mopping up the splurge left behind by Gordon Brown after going on a crazy spending spree and squandering our money. Mr. Gordon Brown and Mr. Jack Daniels do not mix well together, especially when sitting down for a long night together and planning ways to keep a sinking boat from sinking altogether.

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  • Dangerman  |  December 06 2012, 12:54PM

    NickPaignton, The untold ruling in a right wing capitalist free market system means that the more someone is paid, then they have the brains to sort financial problems out, hence the rich constantly getting income tax cuts at every budget. What the British people need is for their taxes to come back from central government and adaquately fund all our vital services, but we wont get this all the time the British electorate keep electing right wing Government's. This is the bottom line. ie the crux of the matter.

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  • NickPaignton  |  December 06 2012, 12:32PM

    START BY CUTTING HIGHLY PAID COUNCIL STAFF SALARIES BY 30% !!!! or is this unimaginable ???

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  • NickPaignton  |  December 06 2012, 12:30PM

    Start by cutting high earning Council salaries by 30% !!!!! or is that unthinkable ??????

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  • Dangerman  |  December 06 2012, 11:19AM

    Why are we having these cuts ?. Because the Tories are using the cover of reducing the deficit to remove the welfare State, and everything to do with care in the community which needs income tax payers money. We have been losing the vital role of what the State should provide via tax payers money since the Thatcher era, and now David Cameron is finished what Margaret Thatcher started, over 30 years ago. These cuts from the top down, are ideologically driven, they are nothing to do with a saving, or of cutting the deficit. The Tories want a small State, and the British want low income tax. And this is precisely what we have.

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  • TorbayLuvva  |  December 06 2012, 9:52AM

    Spindleshanks - have you seen the reworking plans for Union Street and Fleet Street which are part of the reports pack just published for the meeting of the Transport Working Party next week? Idea is to build a dedicated cycleway which will run from somewhere up near the hospital right down to the harbour (and the terminal for the proposed new fast ferry service). I'm all in favour of promoting cycling in the area, but simply can't see how cyclists speeding down hill along Union Street and Fleet Street are going to mix safely with pedestrians and the buses? Perhaps the Torquay Forum should ask to have some input now at the design stage?

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  • spindleshanks  |  December 06 2012, 9:05AM

    How much is just about to be spent over the next three years reworking the street scene in Fleet Street in advance of a Neighbourhood Plan that is likely to recommend the street is pedestrianised?

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