SAVAGE service cuts, parking hikes and mass redundancies are on the cards as the cash-strapped Isle of Wight Council looks to plug a £28m black hole in its budget over the next three years.
Following repeated warnings services would have to be be radically overhauled, farmed out to parish councils and community groups or simply axed as a result of further reductions in government funding and rising costs, the sheer scale of the budget crisis emerged this week with the publication of papers ahead of next week’s cabinet meeting.
Savings proposals due to be considered by the cabinet on January 9, and full council on January 15, reveal how many services are under threat. The full report can be viewed below.
All non-statutory services — including the maintenance of parks, beaches and cemeteries, school crossing patrols, leisure centres, youth services and Medina Theatre — could be farmed out to third parties, if anyone is willing to take them on.
Charges for the Cowes floating bridge will be reviewed, with a view to generating an extra £900,000 over the next three years, and parking charges look set to rise, generating £600,000. Proposals include increasing short-stay charges by 20 per cent and long-stay charges by ten per cent, scrapping free parking at leisure centres, ditching the blue badge concession in car parks and introducing more on-street charges.
The number of community safety and environment officers could be reduced, which means there would no longer be any monitoring of toilet and beach cleaning contracts, or enforcement of fly tipping, graffiti or littering, and the Fairway Athletics Track could be closed.
Other proposals include increasing charges for bereavement services, scrapping emergency phones at beaches and free swimming for children in the summer holidays and axing funding for Dinosaur Isle, the Youth Island Games, Walking Festival and Cycling Festival.
Social care cuts, including increasing charges for respite care and reducing personal budget payments, residential care admissions and funding for adult and community learning, are also on the cards.
Redundancies look likely across the board — from strategic directors and heads of service, to senior and middle managers through to support and back office staff.
It is proposed an HR1 notice, where the potential exists for more than 100 redundancies in 90 days, be issued.
Last week, as revealed by the Isle of Wight County Press, Unison warned there could be as many as 300 compulsory redundancies over three years.
Members will consider increasing council tax by two per cent, which equates to £26 per year on a Band D property, raising £600,000.
Further options to be considered in more detail include merging the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service with another authority and squeezing extra £1m worth of savings from the new waste contract.
A proposal to use £5m from balances and reserves during the next financial year, to buy the authority some time, has already been agreed.
Given the budget is due to be set by full council on February 26, a question mark hangs over the council's ability to make the necessary savings in time. Many of the proposals are subject to reviews and public consultations before services can be cut, and staff will need to be consulted prior to redundancies being made.
• Reducing the number of senior and middle managers, saving £1.1m over three years.
• Increasing parking charges, saving £600,000, and reducing the number of traffic wardens, saving £60,000.
• Transferring the provision of school crossing patrols to schools and parents, saving £230,000.
• Reducing the number of environment officers, saving £400,000.
• Reducing the maintenance of council-owned parks, cemeteries and beaches, or seeking third parties to take them on, saving £1.4m.
• Increasing bereavement service charges, saving £120,000.
• Scrapping the provision of beach safety equipment, such as emergency phones, saving £100,000.
•Scrapping sport development and support for the Youth Island Games, saving £280,000.
• Encouraging the West Wight Sports Centre to operate independently, potentially leading to its closure, saving £148,000.
•No longer running the Walking and Cycling festivals, and seeking third parties to take them on, saving £152,000.
• Reviewing floating bridge charges to increase income, saving £900,000.
• Seeking to operate all leisure centres (The Heights, Medina and Westridge) at nil cost to the council, saving £1m.
• Re-introducing fees for children's swimming in the school holidays, saving £90,000.
• Handing the management of the Fairway Athletics Track to the athletics club or school, or closing it, saving £46,000.
• Seeking a third party to take on Medina Theatre, saving £138,000.
• Seeking more NHS funding for community and residential care provision, saving £2.1m.
• Reducing personal budget payments, saving £1.3m.
• Reducing admissions to residential care, saving £2.1m.
• Increasing charges for respite care, saving £450,000.
• Reducing funding for adult and community learning, saving £300,000.
• Scrapping funding for Dinosaur Isle, saving £60,000.
• Reducing library administration costs, saving £120,000.
• Implementing a new senior management structure, including the deletion of strategic director and heads of service posts, saving £2.2m.
• Reducing support services and back office posts, saving £1.3m.
• Reducing support services, saving £6.6m.
• Reducing the number of community safety officers, saving £110,000.
• Restructuring administrative support and reducing spend on external consultants, in relation to the highways PFI, saving £480,000.
• Reducing youth service spend, saving £600,000.
• Reducing procurement spend, by scrapping the courier contract and reducing mobile phone usage, saving £423,000.
Isle of Wight Council Agenda - Thursday, January 9, 2014.