Changes to bin collections, a review of library services and an increase in parking fees could all be on the cards in the next two years as the council looks to make further budget cuts.
On Wednesday Wrexham.com reported that the local authority was starting its budget process surprisingly early this year, with a round of budget cut proposals going before the executive board on Tuesday 23rd July.
Over the next two years it is estimated that Wrexham Council will need to make nearly £10 million of savings. This is on top of the £62 million of cuts to local services and staff that have been made in recent years.
Speaking earlier this week Council Leader Mark Pritchard, who will present the report to councillors on Tuesday in what has been called a ‘special’ meeting, said that a “tipping point” had been reached and that Wrexham Council is facing the “most difficult time” in its history.
This year will see the budget process start nine months earlier, with the local authority usually launching its public consultation and debates towards the end of the year.
A report due before councillors next week shows different ‘types’, including the first which can be approved now and before the summer recess. Phase two will cover decisions that can be made in the autumn following publication of the Provisional Local Government Revenue and Capital Settlement for the 2020/21 financial year.
Normally such details are announced in the autumn, however there are warnings that this could be as late as December this year.
Type 2, or ‘T2’ proposals, which amount to savings of £913k in 2020/21 and £140k in 2021/22, are ones that require further engagement and consultation prior to any decision being made in the autumn. Other cuts may also have to be considered later in the year as well.
In a breakdown provided in a report due before councillors next week, T2 proposals listed include:
– Free Breakfast Care – increase from £1 to £1.50 per session from Sept 2020 and then to £2 from Sept 2021
– Review of Highway Maintenance Standards with a ‘10% standards reduction’ as the impact
– Review Country Parks Delivery Model
– Review Allotment Fee tariffs – weekly increase of 24p for a full plot , 14p for a half plot and 8p for a quarter plot
– Review ‘Promoting Good Health & Well Being Priority’ with the impact noted as ‘33% standards reduction’
Other proposals include a review of Wrexham’s libraries – such as “looking at the ways in which the council delivers its library service and consider where the opportunities to are to integrate with other service through either co-location or method or service delivery.”
Speaking earlier this week Chief Executive of Wrexham Council, Ian Bancroft told Wrexham.com he wanted to reassure the public that no decisions had been made and that the local authority wants to “find solutions so that library services can be retained in the community”.
He said: “We are going out for early engagement, nine months ahead of when the budget is implemented in April. That gives us enough breathing space to not just consult with communities, but to engage with communities about what solutions might be, because we don’t want to be doing this, we don’t really want to be cutting library services or doing any of the rest of these.
“So I think those discussions with communities around other language will be look, if we just did our normal approach, the budget would end up coming and we would be putting closure proposals in.
“We actually don’t want to close libraries, so we want to work with you to find solutions that means a library service can be retained in your community.”
Car parking prices could also be reviewed in a bid to raise £74,948 in 2020/2021, along with a review of waste and recycling collection models.
Councillors will next week be asked to approve plans to introduce a £25 charge for green bin collections. However a further review into collections could take place – with the council last year asking for feedback on moving to three weekly.
There is also an interesting note by the Environment Department in the report before councillors, that explains ‘significant progress has been made to date’ to bring their budget back in to line which is helping ‘reduce’ the ‘£1.2m pressure’. This progress has two areas highlighted, “reduction in Agency Staffing by 90% (from 65 to 7)” and “Review of staffing structure including senior management team.”
T1 and T2 savings are stated as totalling £2.3m for 2020-21 and £715k the following year.
The budget proposals will go before a special meeting of the executive board at 10am on Tuesday 23rd July. The meeting will also be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website.
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