Cambridgeshire Streetlights Off After Midnight

14 October 2014, 06:58 | Updated: 14 October 2014, 06:59

Cambridgeshire County Council are warning of 'unavoidable cuts and job losses' as they try and save almost £33 million over the next year.

A statement from Cambridgeshire County Council reads:

"Councillors are due to look at challenging proposals for Economy, Transport and Environment Services to help meet £32.6 million in savings for the Council.

Officers will be putting forward initial proposals to the Economy and Environment Committee as well as Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee who look after a combined budget of £86.9 million.

Next year Cambridgeshire County Council has to save £32.6 million after having saved around £70 million over the last two years and £31 million this year. Of that £32.6 million the services looked after by these committees are looking to save £4.4 million.

Councillors will be looking at some very tough savings and cuts to make in these areas to meet the savings required. Where possible they will also be helping give local parish councils and community groups the opportunity to protect or run services where they think it is important for their local area.

If agreed by councillors the initial suggestions will mean some unavoidable cuts to services and job losses if the Council is to meet the large savings required of it.

As well as looking at saving money by renegotiating contracts, sharing services, stopping some surveys and reducing support staff the councillors will be asked to consider ideas such as the following, which are grouped by Service Committee:

Economy and Environment Committee

*    In year 2016/17 looking to save around £178,000 that the Council currently spends giving extra support to adult learning programmes in Fenland. The Council receives a Government grant for this work across the County but currently the Council provides extra support in recognition of the additional needs and costs of providing this service in Fenland. The proposed savings would bring the spend for the Fenland adult learning programmes in line with the rest of the county.

*    Cross party review of Cambridgeshire Future Transport and public transport provision with new savings to be looked for from 2016/17.

Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee

*    Saving £278,000 over two years by following the lead of other councils and dimming  most street lights in residential areas and then switching them off between midnight and 6am. Cambridgeshire has already trialled successful dimming of street lights and where other councils have turned lights off during similar periods there has been no evidence of a rise in crime or accidents. Lights would be kept on all night in certain areas such as busy junctions and main traffic routes or where there is a lot of late night activity. Parish Councils would be able to pay for lights they feel are important to stay on all night - estimated cost for this is around £15 a year per lamp column.

*    Reviewing waste services to save around £2.4 million over three years. This will be done through reviewing our Waste PFI contract with support from the Government Department DEFRA as well as working with partners to ensure we make the best use of limited funds and reviewing the services we provide at recycling centres.

*    Saving £750,000 next year in gritting our roads in winter. This would be by reviewing routes so that it is done in the most efficient way, as well as reducing the number of roads the Council grits from 45 per cent to around 30 per cent of the network. We are looking to see if we can give local communities and parish councils the opportunity to support the service if there is an extra need for their area.

*    Saving around £1.6 million over three years by a comprehensive review of library provision and structure as well as working closely with the community to help run local services and libraries. This will include increased use of digital services together with more efficient delivery of a range of public services through greater use of libraries that are also community hubs. The proposal also includes reducing support services and stock fund, whilst targeting our limited resources at areas with greatest needs. Savings will also concentrate on reducing the costs of larger libraries and a shift from the mobile library service towards an enhanced voluntary library at home model to ensure the most vulnerable in our society retain access to reading material.

Graham Hughes, Executive Director: Economy, Transport & Environment, for Cambridgeshire County Council said: "There are no easy choices to make if we are to balance the budget and make the millions of pounds of savings required. At the moment these are just proposals being put forward by officers to councillors on ways to make these tough savings. We all want to deliver high quality services for the people of Cambridgeshire that we serve but unfortunately it is inevitable that cuts will need to be made. We will be working closely with parish councils and community groups on some of the proposals to see where they may wish to help in their area."

Environment and Economy Committee will discuss their budget proposals at their meeting on 21 October. Members of the Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee will discuss their proposals on October 28."