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West Dorset: Council cuts to bite deep
COUNCILLORS have voted through swathes of cuts to services across Dorset.
They have backed plans at cabinet and full council meetings to pursue £16million in savings for next year on top of £10million already identified.
As they tightened the pursestrings at county hall, on the steps outside Unison members led protests against them.
The latest batch of savings identified by the council include cuts of £3.5million to the children’s services budget, which includes saving £650,000 through reduction of careers advice and support to 16 to 19-year-olds to find employment or training.
Withdrawing subsidies for transport to learning disability centres and transport to day centres for older people, as well as a reduction in the number of day centres, are among £5.9million of savings proposed in the adult and community services budget.
In the same department councillors backed a proposal to withdraw funding of up to 20 of the counties libraries, which would result in a saving of £861,000.
In the environment directorate suggested savings include £770,000 in reducing maintenance on the least used parts of the county’s road network and £80,000 through transferring responsibility of school crossing patrols to community or school volunteers.
There are also fears that council days centres and places funded by the council at other organisation’s day centres in Bridport, Beaminster and Lyme Regis may be hit.
Coun Karl Wallace, of Bridport, condemned the proposed cuts after the meetings: “It is totally ridiculous to hit the most vulnerable in our society.
“The youth services and older people, for example the closure of day services, reduction in provision of aids which prevent accidents occurring at home.
DCC has a duty to protect older people and prevent accidents, and therefore keep people out of hospital.”
He added that the council should be investing in services which generate a profit, which can then in turn be invested in providing services for people.
n COUNCIL tax is to be frozen for 2011-12.
The government’s Localism Bill says all councils which do not impose any rise in council tax will be in line for a grant, which for Dorset would equate to around £5million.
DORSET is now one of the lowest funded police forces in the country – and this calls for drastic measures, says the county’s chief constable.
To deal with a shortfall of £6.7million next year the authority has announced dramatic cost-cutting measures to transform the force.
The full details were announced by Chief Constable Martin Baker to the Dorset Police Authority.
The immediate measures to be put in place on January 4 include losing high-ranking police officers, continuing a recruitment freeze, changing shift patterns, scrapping geographical police divisions and possibly closing costly stations.
Mr Baker vowed that the changes will not affect frontline services or neighbourhood policing. The cost saving changes will be implemented as part of a programme called One Team.
Within this project a total of £7million in staff savings will be made across the force including £2.1million from crime departments and £4.4million in support services. One of the key savings is to abolish geographical divisions.
Main effects of the cuts l Police stations across the county will be reviewed and sold if costly.
l All police officers will have their shift patterns changed.
l Police geographical divisions in Dorset will be scrapped and instead one taskforce will command the county and distribute officers as necessary.
l Two chief superintendents and two superintendents will be forced to retire.
l Traffic division will be able to pass collision investigations to the major crime investigation team so 18 officers can move into front line services.
l Recruitment freeze.
l Less flying hours used in the police helicopter.
l More petty crimes will be dealt with on the phone and only cases that need following up will require a home visit from an officer.
WEYMOUTH is set to lose its Coastguard control centre in a radical shake-up to modernise the 999 service and save money.
Decades of maritime tradition will be severed when the Portland Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) based on Weymouth Quay shuts down.
Thirty people are employed at the centre which is the answering and co-ordination point for Maydays and 999 calls.
Government proposals to cut 10 of the UK’s 19 Coastguard stations including the one at Weymouth do not affect volunteer coastguard rescue officers.
Ministers meanwhile have postponed a decision on the future of search and rescue helicopters in the UK including the aircraft at Portland COUNCILLORS have backed moves to freeze town centre short-stay parking charges but increase long-stay fees.
Members of West Dorset District Council’s executive committee agreed the proposals for 2011 to 2012 before they go for final approval in February.
The measures also include scrapping overnight charges in district council car parks along the coast for two years, including Lyme Regis and West Bay.
The long stay car park charges in Bridport are proposed to increase from £1.30 for three hours to £1.70 and from £2.40 for all day to £2.80.
In Lyme Regis, the proposals include a rise from £1 to £1.70 for long stay car parks.
n WEST DORSET District Council believes measures it has already taken will cater for the ‘bad news’ received in its grant from Government. The council faces a 6.6 per cent reduction in its spending power for 2011-12, followed by a 4.54 per cent drop the following financial year. The authority claims it has already identified savings of around £1million.