Winter maintenance cut backs form part of proposed budget cuts for Cambridgeshire

Gavin Wiseman, highway supervisor and relief gritter stands on thousands of tonnes of grit inside th

Gavin Wiseman, highway supervisor and relief gritter stands on thousands of tonnes of grit inside the salt barn - Credit: Archant

Budget slashing is planned for Cambridgeshire, including winter road gritting cuts, according to a report which says the county is one of the hardest hit in the country.

Steve Flack, 54, digs into the huge pile of grit inside the Witchford dome

Steve Flack, 54, digs into the huge pile of grit inside the Witchford dome - Credit: Archant

There are plans to reduce the demand for adult social care and children’s services and putting more services online to save money.

In addition, some services will be encouraged to share a public building to cut costs, for example housing libraries and one stop shops in one place, already being done in Chatteris and planned for Whittlesey.

Budget proposals due to be debated by councillors show that public services are in for tough times ahead to meet nearly £149 million in savings over the next five years.

Members of the County Councils Scrutiny Committees will be looking at draft budget proposals put forward to meet the huge savings required for 2014/15 and the following years.

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The report warns that there are no easy solutions and that some services will need to be cut or reduced as the Council has already saved £74 million in the last two years.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader, Martin Curtis, said: “This is a very tough time for Councils and especially Cambridgeshire. We are one of the hardest hit authorities in the country in terms of funding and yet we are trying to deliver the most growth.

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“We have already saved tens of millions of pounds by making savings where people would expect as well as using reserves.

“But we are also being innovative with such projects as sharing services with other councils through LGSS as well as being a UK leader in better use of public sector buildings with our partners.”

The proposed budget, which forms the county’s business plan, will be looked at by Scrutiny Committees and is subject to change.

A final version will be debated by full council in February.

It suggests that Council Tax is increased by 1.99% to help protect frontline services.

Cambridgeshire has had a reduction in the Government’s Settlement Funding Assessment of 20.9 per cent (£29.9m) over the next two financial years.

The County is also the lowest funded for education in the UK despite having the fastest growing population.

This means the Council is seeing heavier demands on its services, especially for those who are the most vulnerable, as more people need them or are living longer and require more expensive care services.

Increased population puts a £9 million strain on the Council’s budget, the report says.

Cambridgeshire County Council is expected to make savings over the next year of around £37 million. This is following savings of £42 million last year and a further £32 million this current financial year.

A You Choose public survey showed that residents were given the chance to set their priorities and where they would make savings.

The survey showed people wanted to see fewer cuts in children and adult social care as well as transport, including highway maintenance and public transport.

But people also said if savings had to be made they would look to make deeper cuts in areas such as libraries and corporate services. They also suggested the Council go further in sharing more services and increase income from disposing of property.

The initial budget proposals reflect the You Choose findings with suggestions that the £90 million investment in highway and transport continues as well as the Cambridgeshire Future Transport investment.

The capital spend to provide much needed school places will be maintained as well as investment in transport projects such as Cambridge Science Park station, Ely bypass and improvements to the Kings Dyke rail crossing.

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