Tough times ahead as Wigan Council bids to save millions
5:54pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in North West
TIMES are hard and they are about to get harder.
In a bid to balance the books and find ways of saving £76 million in the next two years, Wigan Council has had to tighten its belt yet another notch.
Council tax is set to rise by nearly 2.5 per cent, free swimming sessions for young and old – pioneered in Wigan borough – will be scrapped, library opening hours are being standardised and disabled drivers will be charged for parking at some council car parks.
A £5m cut from the social care budget is also being considered.
The council has to make more than £18m savings in the next year faced with a falling amount of financial support it gets from central government.
Councillors agreed on the budget at a meeting last Wednesday night at Wigan Town Hall. Working with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, which manages the council’s leisure and cultural services, the authority has devised a plan that will allow the trust to operate on a £10m contract – down £6.4m from two years ago.
Clr Chris Ready, cabinet member for leisure, said: “We have endeavoured to protect frontline services for the taxpayer and ensure quality services for our residents.
“We will continue to work with WLCT and community groups to make sure every opportunity is taken to retain quality services despite huge cuts to our budget.”
Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council, says there are some tough decisions ahead.
He said: “Despite the Government’s cutbacks, we have been working hard to make sure our frontline services are protected as best we can and this will continue.”