How the City of Lincoln Council aims to save £3m over the next five years...
The challenge facing City Hall is to balance the books with £3 million less coming in over the next four to five years. Reduced Government grant and less earnings from car parks and planning permissions due to the recession mean tough decisions lie ahead. In response, the City of Lincoln Council has devised a package of money-saving measures. Here, reporter Paul Whitelam gauges reaction to the possible cuts...
GARDEN WASTE BINS
The green waste collection service costs the council £450,000 a year.
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The proposal is to charge £25 a year to those households who want the service.
Take-up may go down to 20 per cent, saving about £200,000 a year.
Vince Elkington, 61, of Eleanor Close, Lincoln, said: "No one likes paying extra money, this is just another rise.
"Our council tax is about £200, which is a lot of money.
"I suppose we will have to compost a lot more."
THE URBAN RANGERS
The urban ranger service, which costs £100,000 a year, is set to be scrapped.
The commons warden and the sports development team are also due to go.
George Woolfenden, who serves on the commons advisory panel and lives in Carholme Road, Lincoln, said: "This will result in no protection for the commons and open spaces in the city.
"At the moment, all you have to do is call the rangers and they are there.
"We fought long and hard to get this protection is place and now they want to wipe it out. Who will perform their role, the police?"
WALK AND RIDE
The council is proposing to axe its £50,000 annual subsidy from the Walk and Ride bus which ferries people between uphill and downhill Lincoln.
Councillor William Webb, executive member for highways and transportation , at the county council, said: "The City of Lincoln Council's decision will unfortunately create a considerable shortfall in funding.
"Over the next few weeks and months we will work closely with the city council to explore any alternative funding opportunities that exist."
LINCOLN DRILL HALL
The council funds this venue to the tune of £267,000 a year.
A £75,000 cut in funding, spread over four to five years, is being considered.
The council has decided not to pull its funding altogether, which would have spelled the Drill Hall's closure.
Director Simon Hollingworth said: "The cut in funding is not good news and not something we welcome with open arms.
"It is a significant cut but we completely understand the council's position. They are in an impossible situation.
"They have indicated they wish to continue to support us and this could have been much worse for us. We have yet to work through the implications but the aim is that we will cope."
COUNCILLOR WARD BUDGETS
Each councillor in Lincoln currently has £1,000 to spend on groups and activities in their ward.
The scheme, which costs £33,000 a year, is set to end.
Hartsholme Community Contact Centre in one such group which has received support in the past to buy three new computers. Ivy Battersby, from the centre, said: "Groups like ours would miss this funding – it helps pay the bills."
The cuts to the overall £14 million revenue budget, due to take effect in the early summer, have been announced despite savings of £4.5 million having been made since 2008.
There has also been a 28 per cent cut in Government grant over the past two years.
The draft budget goes to the executive on January 28 followed by consultation, before the 2013/14 budget is finally approved on March 5.
Council tax is likely to rise by two per cent, but the council's preferred scenario would be 3.5 per cent more.
Given its budget restraints, the council has had to shrink its focus to three core areas: growing the local economy, protecting the poorest members of society, and creating affordable housing.
In addition to cuts, the council is looking to improve value for money in the £7 million worth of services it buys in each year.
"It costs us £140,000 for Shopmobility, the CAB and Dial-a-Ride but we rejected any cuts here because of our poverty and disadvantage agenda," said council leader Ric Metcalfe.
"The net effect is about eight jobs. We will be doing everything possible to see if there's any scope for alternative employment.
"The situation is bad. It could have been worse. But there is more to come in the next two to three years."