County reveals where the cutbacks will bite

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LINCOLNSHIRE County Council has vowed to protect children’s centres despite huge cuts in its service cuts.

The council approved its budget last Friday but says it has protected services which have an impact on public safety including police community support officers, children, fire and rescue and road gritting.

Children’s centres including the ones in Green Lane, Stamford, Queen’s Road in Bourne and Willoughby Avenue in Market Deeping, have been protected.

Executive councillor for children’s services Patricia Bradwell (Con) said some parents had mistakenly thought children’s centres were closing.

She said: “We are committed to the provision of children’s centres across the county.

“The centres give communities a real boost and provide services all the year round for young people and their families, ensuring youngsters have the best possible start in life.”

The council is responsible for 48 centres across the county, which are aimed at children under five and their families.

There are also outreach programmes for rural areas to bring the support to families wherever they live.

Coun Bradwell said there was no current plans to close any youth centres, which include Bourne Youth Centre in Queen’s Road.

The council said it was consulting staff on a “Big Society” approach for what it called the “delivery of youth centre work” but was unable to give details.

At the meeting, the council also approved a council tax freeze for 2011/12.

It has also protected police community support officers and will provide £1.5m to Lincolnshire Police Authority for 150 officers.

But new charges are being introduced in adult social care, transport charges for post-16 education will increase, and services including trading standards, footpaths, rights of way and teenage services.

This is because the county council has lost 28 per cent of its Government grant funding over the next four years and has had to re-structure how its services are delivered to cope with a shortfall of £125m.

County council portfolio holder for finance Kelly Smith (Con) said the council was committed to providing “essential value for money frontline services”.

He added: “This is the toughest financial settlement for years. The national finances need to be repaired and that equates to less money for councils throughout the country.

“The council also faces increasing costs, particularly for caring for the growing numbers of elderly people in the county.

“Energy prices are also rising and the council is taking on new responsibilities for flood management and concessionary bus fares.”

At the meeting, Coun Lewis Strange (Con), who is responsible for waste services, said the council was continuing to search for a suitable site in Stamford for a tip. It was thought the plans could be on ice because of cuts to waste services.

Meanwhile, the council said 650 staff had expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy.

It has issued consultation documents to 3,200 workers, about half its staff, as part of proposals to restructure the organisation.

There will be 818 job losses, equivalent to about 607 full-time jobs.

Rutland County Council’s Government grant is being slashed from £9.39m to £8.04m next year and it is looking at making nearly £700,000 of savings when it sets its budget on Monday.

Ketton and Ryhall parish councils have also been asked by Rutland County Council if they could cover the costs of some library services.