Budget proposals 2016/17

Blackpool Council has today announced proposals to achieve £9 million savings to council services in the next financial year, 2016/17, with another £11 million still to be found from corporate measures.

It is expected to result in 200 job losses with an additional 50 posts ending.

Council Leader Simon Blackburn has blogged about his thoughts on the budget announcement below.

This is the fifth time that I have had to announce multi-million pound cuts and hundreds of job losses. It is the day of the year that I dread and it certainly does not get any easier with time.

Today we present to the public how we think £9 million can be saved from the services that they receive each and every day. Services that they rely on, services that care for their children and families, and services that make a difference to the area in which they live and work.

During the summer we asked Blackpool residents to have their say and let us know how they would make savings. Many people commented how difficult an exercise it was and in fact many declared it impossible. That is how we feel every year when we look at every penny the council spends and how it can be reduced.

We have used the views of residents and businesses when formulating our proposals, for example protecting Street Cleansing and retaining all eight of the Council’s libraries.

There are also areas that we know cannot cope with any further cuts and they will be protected.

Our difficult decision earlier this year to close the SureStart-attached nurseries has allowed us to keep open all of the Sure Start Centres and Children’s Centres.

But there are no easy solutions – many services will be affected by these cuts.

At this stage we have not received our settlement from the Government so we do not know the exact amount that we need to save but we are working on the basis that it will be £20 million. Blackpool has been one of the hardest hit councils in the country, being forced to make £93 million of cuts since 2010.

A lot of staff will be facing an uncertain future as a result of today’s news. It marks the start of an upsetting time for them and their families and they face losing their income. For those that aren’t at risk they will be asked to commit to taking more unpaid leave and delivering services with less money and fewer team members to help them.

It is a difficult day for all concerned but our commitment to providing quality services to people of Blackpool remains the same. We will make it work because we have to.

Christmas campaigns

WINTER is upon us and I welcome you all to another edition of Your Blackpool.

In this edition we have news on our Council couch project, which has seen our senior officers face a grilling from members of the public, the likes of which is usually reserved for people like myself.

Our terrific Get Started scheme has also had another wonderful year helping people to set up in business.

But what I want to focus on this month is our front page story – the fantastic Give a Little, Help a Lot project.

A festive feature for a number of years, the idea is that we all give a little something, in the true spirit of Christmas, to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

All donations will go to deserving causes, whether that be children in care, those living under difficult circumstances or simply a young person who could do with a little Christmas cheer.

Thanks to your generosity the project made a difference to around 1,100 children in 2013 and this year the need is just as great.

I know that times are hard right now for so many people in Blackpool so we don’t expect the earth – as the name says, just  giving a little bit can make a huge difference.

We’re giving back too this Christmas and while, with finances incredibly tight with another £26m of Government cuts ahead for the next financial year, that isn’t an easy promise to make, we recognise the need to try to help you as much as possible.

So we’ve teamed up with Blackpool BID to offer free parking at all our car parks on Saturday 6 December.

There is also a ‘park for a pound’ offer at four car parks (see page 1) on Thursday evenings and Sundays on the run up to Christmas.

And finally, remaining in the spirit of giving, we’re supporting Age UK’s Donate a Coat campaign which asks people to donate their unwanted coats to help keep people warm this winter.

It is a sad sign of the times that so many people live in fuel poverty these days and that winter warmth remains a big concern.

I’d urge you to dig into your wardrobe, give generously if you can and look out for your friends and neighbours this winter too.

I wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and all the best for 2015.