YET another round of devastating cuts to council services will be unleashed across much of Yorkshire in the New Year after figures suggested the Government is poised to slash funding to the region’s local authorities by a further £300m by 2015.
Labour warned that “libraries, sports centres, Sure Start centres, places at women’s refuges” will inevitably bear the brunt as councils are forced by the Coalition to reduce their spending dramatically once again over the next two years – having already slashed services on an unprecedented scale since 2010.
Julie Dore, the leader of Sheffield City Council, warned of “deeper and more devastating cuts to services” than anything seen so far.
But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles insisted local authorities should be able to cope with the Government’s latest two-year funding settlement by working more efficiently and cutting back on non-essential spending.
“This is a fair settlement,” he told MPs. “Fair to north and south, fair to rural and urban areas and fair to shires and mets.”
His department yesterday sent out a provocative 50-point plan to council leaders suggesting ways they could make savings without hurting front-line services.
The list included setting up cafes inside art galleries, and cutting back on expensive hotels and “glitzy award ceremonies”.
But his claims that such measures might bridge the gap were met with disbelief and derision by council leaders now faced with slashing millions of pounds from their budgets before March.
Keith Wakefield, the leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I find it absolutely pathetic that this is the level of debate. We are facing incredibly painful decisions.”
A looming crisis: Page 4