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Every inch of community set to feel cuts bite in £50.8m Sefton funding cuts

SPORTS clubs, religious groups and vulnerable social care patients are all likely to be affected by the latest swathe of budget cut proposals.

Looking to slash £50.8m over the next two years, Sefton council’s cabinet will today debate funding reductions set to hit every inch of our community.

Much-valued services and events could be severely undermined as the cash-strapped council looks to close its budget deficit.

Today (Thursday) the council’s cabinet will discuss the money-saving plans.

Policies include introducing charges for green waste collection, ending all financial support for Christmas decorations and remodelling adult daycare provisions.

After initially being deferred for consultation burial fees are expected to become among the most expensive in the country and pitch maintenance fees are likely to rise for adult sports clubs.

The council may have avoided a bitter stand-off with unions though, after scaling back demands to save £6m by renegotiating staff contracts. Instead they will look to save £3m through another pay freeze and making the enforced four-day Christmas shutdown for non-essential services permanent.

Should the cabinet pass the measures in a meeting at 10am at Bootle Town Hall, they will then be considered for approval at a full council meeting on February 28.

Key politicians in the borough understand the difficulty of the task facing them, though many have their own concerns. The leader of Sefton Conservatives, Peter Papworth, said this was a time to put party politics aside.

He said: “Everyone knows the reason why the country’s economy is in a mess, and why drastic reductions in public expenditure are needed, and this is no time for cheap point-scoring by politicians. In large measure, the proposals which are being considered by Sefton’s cabinet on Thursday would also have been put to a Conservative cabinet, and there is not much room for our present Labour rulers to wriggle... broadly speaking, the recommendations for increased charges and reduced service are what I would have expected. But some of them are very difficult to accept.”

Among the policies he is most concerned about are the closure of all public toilets in Sefton, the rising burial costs and those affecting care for the elderly.

Cllr Iain Brodie-Browne, leader of the Lib Dem opposition, added his concerns.

He said: “I have been contacted by several people concerned that their savings will no longer cover the cost if this goes through.”

He added: “We shall look carefully at the proposals and present costed alternatives.”

Sefton council leader Cllr Peter Dowd reiterated the severity of the situation facing the borough. He said: "Some of the savings we have already had to make have had a devastating effect on our communities, and they are likely to be hit hard again.

“Making cuts of £43m for the next two years was bad enough but now we are faced having to make decisions which will inflict significantly more pain for our communities ... we have also had to look, once again at our budget options and cut deeper into services so that we can balance our budget – which we are legally required to do."

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