Budget: £22m needs saving as jobs cuts announced in Wakefield

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall

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JOB cuts have been announced in Wakefield Council’s budget for the following year – with bosses warning the worst is still to come.

Up to 50 jobs will be lost in the next financial year as the council tries to save £22m.

And although the figure is lower than feared, it is estimated that by 2015 there will be 1,700 fewer council jobs than in 2011.

Fees and charges will increase in some areas of social care and will be introduced for car parking at sports, leisure and cultural facilities.

Charges for cremations will also increase and swimming pool opening hours will be reduced.

But on Monday, council leader Coun Peter Box and chief executive Joanne Roney stressed that frontline services would be protected and council tax would be frozen for a second year.

They said around £1m a year would be invested into improving the district’s roads, with investments of £450,000 going into new street-cleaning equipment and £250,000 into troubled families.

Coun Box said: “Once again this is a really tough budget.

“It is impossible to have budget savings without some service reductions. But we have kept service cuts to an absolute minimum.”

The council will pledge £130,000 a year for three years to support the running of Clarke Hall by a partner organisation.

Chief executive Joanne Roney said sports and leisure facilities could be transferred to community groups, including town and parish councils, in the same way some of the district’s markets have been.

She said: “We will look at new ways of delivering services that both protects services and makes the most of local assets.”

The council will save £1m through the opening of the new Wakefield ONE service hub at Merchant Gate, and £436,000 by reducing its contribution to the Hepworth.

Senior bosses will take five per cent salary cuts.

Its biggest saving, at £4.17m, will come from a new PFI contract to have household waste services centralised this year into new and improved facilities at South Kirby and Denby Dale Road.

But it is a one-off saving council bosses will not be able to call upon in their budget for 2013-14, when they will be faced with having to save at least an estimated £16.4m.

Coun Box said: “If we don’t get a council tax freeze grant again next year then we will have to find another £3m. It means cuts will be deeper.”

Coun Box stressed that most job cuts would be achieved through voluntary redundancy and deleting vacant posts.