Savage cuts on the cards at Isle of Wight Council

By Emily Pearce

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

 

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.

Proposals include:

• 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.

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

Comments

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Displaying the last 10 of 105 comments - Show All Comments

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by roger mazillius

6th January 2014, at 09:45:30

Alan, que?

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by alan naylor

6th January 2014, at 09:05:47

The more sites the better!!!!!!!!!? Rodger!!! you mean this site suits you perfectly that's not being democratic at all and for all the jollies that was approved abroad were are we now2 even went to the tropics on a fact finding mission all the cuts will do is close more outlets its not the way forward to miss one tourist season would be disaster us for the island

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by Richard Marlow

5th January 2014, at 22:10:14

Would the last person to leave the IOW, please turn out the lights and shut the gate after them.

Just a little joke :)

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by roger mazillius

5th January 2014, at 14:44:38

Cllr. Jordan seems to be totally confused about the amount of savings required. He is posting elsewhere in some detail that they must find £28m a year for the next three years and then states this £28m has to be found over three years!
So how much is it Phil, £84m or £28m? Could be important!

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by roger mazillius

4th January 2014, at 20:11:17

They seem to loath this CP site with ludicrous posts about the paper's connections to the Island's establishment so please don't give that other site any publicity. It is mostly the natural home of anonymous idiots who do not have the guts to post comments in their own names!
We do ok without them, although there is room for proper contributions from Cabinet Members who are not too afraid to post in their own names.
I am not however holding my breath!

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by Jack Woodford

4th January 2014, at 16:19:14

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, eh fellas?
The plums.

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by Don Prescott

4th January 2014, at 16:01:01

Jack,
you can't say "always posting on their online fanzine Ventnor Blog.", as it is now known as OntheWight, such is the exponential growth of their influence.

However, you are correct in stating that they give this a wide berth.
I well remember Jordan always posting on here until trying to get a clear statement of his "preferences" on a certain subject - then vroom - not heard from again.

He, along with his little chum, is on there now, busy fielding questions about the huge sums they intend to save by increasing parking charges.

Astonishingly, although only giving a potential income of £365K, has generated 39 comments!

One particular item gives an additional £15K if they scrap the April free parking on esplanades and start in March.
Can you believe that?

Fiddling about for a paltry £365K over parking charges, when, as you rightly said, selling the Coastal Centre and Blackgang viewpoint would be worth double that amount, with NO ma

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by roger mazillius

4th January 2014, at 14:47:38

Yes Jack, it's a funny old world isn't it? in fact, their silence is speaks volumes!

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by Jack Woodford

4th January 2014, at 11:05:01

@Roger Maz
It is weird current cabinet members give this place a wide berth yet are always posting on their online fanzine Ventnor Blog.
It shows the level at which they operate, I'm afraid.

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by roger mazillius

4th January 2014, at 10:32:55

I would also add that it is a pity that certain senior IW Councillors who have been quick to post criticism of the previous administration are leaving it to me, one of their frequent targets, to in effect explain the difficulties they now face and in a way, partly defend them!
So I hope that they will now give us the benefit of their views on the budget spending reductions - or is that expecting too much!

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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