Council’s plans to cut £125m

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A COUNCIL leader has announced how he plans to cut £125million from its budget.

Durham County Council has drafted up a list of spending reductions by 2015 in the wake of the Government’s spending review.

The details were revealed just hours after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles claimed the authority is given funds others “can only dream of” in the House of Commons.

He has urged the council to use its reserves – which he has put at £93million – rather than cut frontline services.

Council leader Simon Henig, who announced the list of cuts, has said the minister’s comments show he does not understand local Government funding.

The reductions he announced will amount to £125million by 2015 and has hit out at the Government’s cuts as “ideologically driven” and “unfair”.

The Labour-led council, the biggest authority in the region, plans to axe £6million in home to school transport, £1.5million from libaries, £1.3million from leisure centres and £2million from in-house social care.

Local projects will also be hit alongside funds for outside bodies. Venues including the Gala and Beamish Museum, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and bus services will all have services cut.

Departments including its assistant chief executive services, children’s services, neighbourhood services and regeneration and economic development will also see their budgets reduced by millions of pounds.

Coun Henig said: “Mr Pickles, who represents a constituency in a wealthy part of Essex, fails to understand different parts of the country and their different needs.

“More people in Durham and other parts of the North East depend on council services rather than in richer parts of the country.”

The council plans to freeze council tax for the next financial year, with £67.1million to be made in cuts during the next 12 months, followed by another £57.9million by 2015.

Up to 2,000 jobs could be lost.

In anticipation of the spending review, the council carried out a consultation with residents and organisations it works with to canvas opinions on cuts.

Tax payers said they wanted the council to protect winter maintenance, road and pavement repairs, adult care services, efforts to deal with antisocial behaviour and child protection.

The proposals will go to cabinet next Wednesday before further consultation is launched, with a final decision to be made by full council next month.