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£1m Wyre Forest budget cuts given the go-ahead
PROPOSALS to cut Wyre Forest District Council’s budget by nearly £1 million next year have been approved.
Money-saving plans were given the go-ahead at a full council meeting on Wednesday last week, three months earlier than previous budget-setting cycles.
Proposals were approved by 25 votes, from Conservative and Liberal and Independent group councillors, to 15, from Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC) and Labour politicians, following a fierce debate.
Work will now turn towards implementing policies which include stripping disabled blue badge holders of concessions at council-owned car parks, and renting empty rooms at the council headquarters, Wyre Forest House.
There will also be increased charges for car parking, cemetery and sports pitches.
Other cost-cutting plans have become council policy, though, controversially, business cases and full details of some plans still need to be put together.
The authority’s overview and scrutiny committee will consider plans to offload benefit and revenue and Hub services to private company Civica, which could save about £200,000.
Councillors and officers will look to slash council contributions to Worcestershire Regulatory Services and make better commercial use of Kidderminster Town Hall.
There was plenty of political toing and froing as ICHC tabled an ultimately unsuccessful alternative budget which included proposals to postpone the budget vote until the February full council meeting.
It also attacked the administration’s plan for a new £10 million leisure centre.
ICHC leader, councillor Graham Ballinger, said policies had not been properly evaluated and councillors, including members of the strategic review committee, set up to oversee develop- ment of the proposals, had not had enough time to consider them.
Council leader, Conservative John Campion, said the committee had met 26 times, giving opposition members plenty of time to be involved in the process.
The alternative budget received Labour party support but was defeated by 25 votes to 15.
The administration’s approved budget plans also include raising Wyre Forest’s council tax precept by 1.94 per cent, adding £3.83 to the average bill.
The package will bring council spending next year down £800,000, to £11.5 million
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