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Rutland County Council looks at public service cuts in bid to save £1.21m

Changes to children’s services, transport, libraries and the arts are among a raft of proposed budget-saving ideas being considered by Rutland County Council.

The council’s scrutiny committees met last night and will meet again tonight to review planned budget savings to cut council spending in the current financial year.

The spending review follows the council’s decision, in February, to cap its council tax increase to 2.99 per cent and use £2.4m from its reserves to reel in the deficit created by reduced Government funding.

Rutland County Council (46694400)
Rutland County Council (46694400)

It proposes savings of £422,000 from public services, a further £604,000 in changes to how these services are funded, and £185,000 in administrative costs.

Leader of Rutland County Council, Oliver Hemsley (Con), said the saving options had been generated by public feedback, councillors and initiatives from other councils.

“As part of the measures agreed in our latest annual budget, the council needs to identify options to reduce its overall costs – both in the short term and long term,” he said.

Council leader, Coun Oliver Hemsley, believes at least £2m more of savings will need to be made in future without additional Government help
Council leader, Coun Oliver Hemsley, believes at least £2m more of savings will need to be made in future without additional Government help

“The aim is to find savings and protect our core services while we carry out further financial planning and analysis.”

A total of 25 separate savings from public services were put forward.

These include:

  • A £20,000 saving in the commissioning budget for the Visions Children’s Centre, in Oakham, which supports families of children aged 0 to five.
  • £15,700 savings from the Aiming High programme - which supports children with special educational needs and disabilities. Families would be asked to pay more for activities, activities would be reduced, and overnight residential stays stopped.
  • Keeping the customer service desk at the council’s Catmose headquarters closed and halving telephone services to 20 hours a week as part of £10,000 savings.
  • Running the Oakham Hopper bus as a free service, rather than through a commercial transport operator, saving more than £57,000. Part of the proposal would see Oakham Town Council approached to fund the service, used by an average of 17,500 passengers per year, or take over its running as a community service.
  • Schools would be asked to pay the deficit for its bikeability courses at a charge of £150 per session of 12 pupils, while householders would be asked to pay a further £5 a year to have their green waste bin collected, saving £60,000.
  • Replacing the mobile library with an order and delivery service, while the suggested reduction in its £60,000 book fund to libraries would cut stock by 29 per cent in the next 12 months.
  • Stop funding for the Live and Local which would end the subsidised theatre performances in village halls.
  • Stop the £6,000 annual grant to Arts for Rutland, causing a ‘significant reduction or cessation’ in the voluntary group’s events which includes two annual countywide art exhibitions, theatre productions at Rutland Museum and the Cinema for Rutland programme.
  • Trim £60,000 from its budget for maintaining public footpaths, but warns the proposals could make its network of paths ‘less accessible overall for less abled bodies’.

A lengthy list of proposed changes to strategic projects, includes asking parishes to take on additional responsibilities and a review of the council’s leisure provision.

CCTV provision in Oakham and Uppingham, home to school transport, public health services and Rutland Care Village, a scheme which provides respite for carers, would also be reviewed under ‘other ideas’.

According to Coun Hemsley, at least £2m of further savings would be needed in coming years without additional Government funding.

“While these initial savings will help, there is much more we need to do,” he added.

“It’s clear from the work we’ve done that to deliver savings of this magnitude will need significant changes to the way the council works and the services it offers.

“As we do this we’ll be turning to residents for their input.

“For example, the council will soon be consulting on its waste management strategy where it has already set an objective to try and reduce costs by 10 per cent, nearly £400,000.”

After this week’s scrutiny committee reviews, the budget savings 2021/22 report will be presented to the council’s cabinet on May 18.

If approved, a final decision will be made by the full council in June.

The full reports can be read at www.rutland.gov.uk/meetings

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