Chance to have your say on £25m Newport cuts plans
12:09pm Thursday 12th December 2013 in News
MEMBERS of the public can now have their say on plans for millions in savings for the next four years following a meeting of senior Newport councillors.
The public consultation on proposals to deliver £25 million in savings over four years has been launched with items stretching from public toilets, council tax rises, the schools library service and big Newport events.
Yesterday Newport council’s cabinet formally agreed to push on with the process, which includes proposal for next year’s 2014/15 budget as well as ideas running until 2017/18.
It comes after the council's Prospectus for Change proposed radical changes to Newport council earlier this year.
The proposed cuts include efficiency savings as well as changes to services, a point stressed by chief executive Will Godfrey at the cabinet meeting.
He said: “This is about saying we are trying very hard within the organisation to... make sure we are much more efficient so we minimise as much as possible the impact on services.”
Labour council leader Bob Bright said the proposals set out “ground-breaking changes” and said he hoped everybody will take part.
He said he needed to “put to bed” why the council could borrow £90 million for Friars Walk, but couldn’t borrow to get the council out of the current situation.
Such a move isn’t possible and would mean “subsequent borrowing year on year”, the leader explained.
Mark Whitcutt, cabinet member for resources, said there were “no excuses for not engaging in this consultation” while education cabinet member Bob Poole said they were the “most severe cuts I have ever seen”.
Outgoing head of finance Chris Barton clarified at the meeting that the council would not be setting council tax four years to come and that the setting of the tax is an annual process.
That is a despite a proposal in the medium term financial plan for council tax to be set at five per cent for the next four years.
Other proposals include Newport’s schools library service ending while Newport Museum and central library could close one day a week.
The Riverfront Theatre could be managed by a third-party organisation by April 1, 2016, saving £300,000, while public council toilets with barring those at the new Market Square bus station and Austin Frairs could be closed in 2014/15, saving £137,000.
Three public “drop-in” meetings will be held for the budget consultation – including meetings at Malpas Court on December 16, Newport Stadium on December 18 and Newport Centre on January 16.
There will be two time slots on each day of meetings - Midday to 2pm and 5pm to 7pm.
From Thursday afternoon residents can contribute comments to the Newport council website - visit www.newport.gov.uk/budget.
You can also write to Budget Consultation, Newport Council, Civic Centre, Newport, NP20 4UR.
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