Flintshire councillors approve £10m cuts

Reporter:

Lois Hough

PROPOSALS to save £10m from Flintshire Council's budget have been approved by councillors.

Three libraries will shut and the mobile library service scaled back as the authority battles to save £10 million in the next year.

Children will have to pay for extra-curricular music lessons and youth clubs will be forced to reduce their opening hours.

Cafes at Flint and Holywell leisure centres will close and the popular crèche at Flint leisure centre will also call it a day.

The council tax will rise by three per cent.

It is expected about 100 posts will be lost in what is purported to be the biggest programme of cuts in Flintshire Council history.

But plans to end free transport for the elderly and people with learning disabilities have been put on ice pending a review by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).

And Queensferry Library – which was faced with closure – will remain open following a public outcry.

Plans to roll out car park charges across Flintshire have also been scrapped.

The council was forced to make the cuts after it was hit with a reduced settlement from the WAG.

A crunch meeting took place at Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, where 34 councillors voted in favour of the budget, 27 voted against and three abstained.

Council leader Arnold Woolley said: “This is the most difficult budget that the authority has ever had to put together.

“There will be no compulsory redundancies of staff except as a last resort and no cuts to essential services.”

Councillor Aaron Shotton, leader of the opposition Labour group, suggested that crucial savings could be found elsewhere. Money spent on consultancy fees and on advertising and publicity could easily be chopped.

Cllr Patrick Heesom, leader of the New Independents group in Flintshire, said the budget did not “stand up” and asked for it to be deferred.

“I have never seen a budget so hopeless as this one,” he said. “Voting for it today is a wish and a prayer.”

The council is looking to save a total of £29m over three years.

See full story in the Leader

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