Town Hall axes hundreds more posts in cutbacks
9:26am Tuesday 15th January 2013 in News
The local authority’s ruling cabinet met yesterday to agree a £34.6 million cuts programme, including the loss of 486 posts and service reductions.
Details of where the axe will fall are still to be finalised but youth centres, grass cutting, street cleaning and day services could all be hit.
Bolton’s full council will still need to approve this year’s full budget when it meets on February 20, but yesterday’s decision means officers can now press ahead with implementing the cuts strategy.
The cabinet will also need to meet again on February 11, to approve another £9 million of cuts, which could involve up to 220 more job losses or a council tax hike.
At yesterday’s meeting Conservative leader David Greenhalgh welcomed an increase in government funding to help bolster the council’s public health coffers, from £16.3 million to £18.1 million, but also asked for clarification on the council’s reserves — which currently stand at £130 million.
He was told by finance chief and council deputy chief executive Steve Arnfield that some of the cash was controlled by schools, some was needed for future IT and capital projects and as contingency money for things such as fuel and energy cost increases.
Mr Arnfield also said the government had changed what cash was classed as “reserves”, which Labour’s Ebrahim Adia claimed had been done by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to make it “appear” as though town halls were “sitting on huge reserves”.
Cllr Adia said: “The leaders of all parties in Bolton wrote to Eric Pickles but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears and that’s very disappointing.”
Liberal Democrat leader Roger Hayes added: “I share that view and the lobbying is continuing. The message we’re getting back is ‘you should have seen what the proposals were before you put your two pennies’ worth in’.”
Bolton Council Chief Executive Sean Harriss said: “There’s a considerable amount of work to be done to turn the strategic decisions the cabinet is about to make into changes on the ground.”