Axe hangs over council services

Pictures taken at Field Lane Children's Centre, Rastrick, for an advertising feature.

Pictures taken at Field Lane Children's Centre, Rastrick, for an advertising feature.

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Vital services in Calderdale could be at risk due to a £2.6 million cut in the council’s discretionary budget.

The area of the budget affected include provision for children’s centres, libraries, support for voluntary organisations, business grants, youth services, swimming pools and road gritting services.

Halifax Swimming Pool.

Halifax Swimming Pool.

Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town), leader of the Labour group on Calderdale Council, said: “Local people must not be fooled into thinking that these services are unimportant – in fact, they cover many every day services that people value.

“Unless the Conservatives can tell us what they are ruling in, and what they are ruling out, all of these services could be under threat.”

Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley), deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “At the moment, there are no details on what these proposals actually mean.

“We are worried because many local services that are valued by local people, such as libraries, youth services and swimming pools may be cut because these can all be classed as discretionary services.”

Halifax Central Library and Northgate House.

Halifax Central Library and Northgate House.

Council leader Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said: “The Budgets for 2015/16 and 2016/17 are the same as accepted by council in February 2014, delivering a zero increase in the first year and only one per cent for the second year.

“The items that I guess they are referring to are possible changes to provision of services for 2017/18, but at this stage it is only possible suggestions that would be put to a comprehensive consultation with the local taxpayers of Calderdale before decisions have to be made in February 2016.

“These would also include all-out elections every four years, a reduction in the number of councillors from 51 to 36 and increases in Council Tax rather than changes in service provision.”