Friday, 21st November 2014

Cuts ‘will devastate our town’

Moves by Shropshire Council to make cuts of £41.6 million will have a ‘devastating impact’ on Shrewsbury and its residents, it is claimed.

The council’s cabinet this week approved plans to generate the savings over a two-year period from 2012.

But Alan Mosley, Labour opposition group leader, said he had serious fears over the effect the cuts would have on the local economy and the town’s growth.

The framework includes just over £8 million from a reduction in senior staff, and changes to staff terms and conditions.

A further £8.1 million could come from a review of adult social care services.

The council also faces capital projects being slashed to save a further £35 million.

The schemes officers had proposed could be cut from the capital programme included:

Shrewsbury Crematorium – cremator replacement, £1.5 million; Rowley’s House, disabled access improvements and improvements, £1 million; Shrewsbury West End Road improvements, £1.4 million; Shrewsbury – flood & water management, £230,000; Shrewsbury Bus Station and Raven Meadows car park, £600,000; and Frankwell Footbridge, £460,000.

Councillor Mosley said the cabinet meeting was ‘the first opportunity for people to see the real devastating impact of the local cuts’, which would have ‘a very serious impact on people’s lives in Shrewsbury’.

He said: “These were schemes that would have taken Shrewsbury forward and I have serious concerns about the serious impact on the local economy and the prospect for jobs.

“This is money that would have been spent on the local economy improving facilities and also providing employment and growth in the local economy.”

Councillor Mosley said: “Clearly Shrewsbury and Shropshire are going to be left with fewer essential services. The budget is risking any chance of future growth in our economy and many essential services are being withdrawn.” He urged Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors to voice their opposition to the cuts at a full council meeting on February 24 when the cabinet decision will be discussed.

Council leader Keith Barrow said there would be consultation over the cuts and said economic development was a top priority and the council would still be spending £171 million on schemes.

He also claimed that schemes deleted from the programme would not be ‘dead and buried’ and could be revived when money allowed.

Peter Bettis, chairman of Shrewsbury Business Chamber, said the chamber was concerned about the cuts but hoped there would be more partnership working between the council and the private sector to ensure services were maintained.

The cuts come as Her Majesty’s Courts Service confirmed the loss of five criminal and civil courts in the county.

by Lisa Rowley