Portsmouth Council Approves £13m Cuts

Portsmouth City Council's approved £13 million of cuts over the next year.

As many as 80 jobs could go as the savings are found in 2015/16.

Community centres and adult social care will be affected, as well as cuts to free public swimming for pensioners and teenagers and the Dial-a-Ride bus service.

Conservative, Labour and UKIP councillors voted in favour of the cuts at a meeting on Tuesday (9 December) but the Liberal Democrats voted against.

Cllr Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said:

"While no councillor gets elected to make cuts to public spending, I really feel the people of Portsmouth will be served well by the forthcoming budget.

"Conservatives, UKIP and Labour have worked together to formulate the budget.

The creation of the council's £505m budget has taken six months of planning.

"The main focus has been to minimise reductions to frontline services.

"We have protected community wardens, who are considered a vital service and will help create a clean, healthy and friendly city.

"£13m savings required have been found by working with the third sector and voluntary groups, evaluating contracts we manage, not filling vacant posts and thinking outside the box - for example picking up the phone to L&S waste and asking them to sponsor the Cosham bonfire at King George V playing fields."

Cllr Julie Swan said: "I’m extremely pleased that we, as a council, have managed to save the initially proposed cut to the women’s refuge here in Portsmouth.  Domestic abuse is often referred to as a hidden crime and when women escape an abusive relationship it is vitally important that they are offered a safe place to stay where they can start to rebuild their lives and the lives of their families.

"All too often women flee abusive partners with very little but what they have on their person at the time.  The refuge is used both by women both locally and nationally and I’m extremely glad that women can continue to come to Portsmouth safe in the knowledge that they will be welcomed and supported at a time in their lives when they need it the most.

"Cutting finances to a place of safety and support simply wasn’t an option for myself and many others at the council."

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour Party group leader said:

"Sure Start centres are a priority for the Labour group. The help it gives vulnerable children and their families is essential, and securing more funding is our priority.

"This year's budget presents the council with difficult choices, however it has been welcome that some of the parties have come together in order to deliver a degree of consensus."

Almost 2,500 residents and staff took part in the budget consultation and the responses have been considered in putting proposals together. As a result of feedback, cuts to grants to the Kings Theatre, New Theatre Royal and Aspex Gallery have not been included whereas areas where respondents indicated they would be prepared to accept reductions, such as footcare services, have been included.

Respondents were also asked whether charges should be introduced as an alternative to cutting services and, as a result, charges for bulky waste collections are included in the proposals, along with plans to develop a charging scheme for residents' parking.

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