Shropshire Council planning further £35m cuts

Council chiefs could have to find £35 million of savings next year, it has been revealed.

Keith Barrow, Leader of
Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council

Councillor Keith Barrow warned of a ‘very traumatic time ahead’ as the council faces the prospect of finding savings of up to £70 million over the next four years.

He made the comments as he was formally re-elected at yesterday’s meeting of the full authority – the first since the local elections two weeks ago.

But he insisted budget cuts could be found with current levels of service not only maintained, but improved.

It comes after the authority revealed plans to introduce free 15-minute parking in towns across Shropshire from Monday.

Council leader Keith Barrow said the aim of the move was to encourage drivers to visit their town centre without being put off by parking charges.

The move was today welcomed by business leaders – who hoped the grace period could be extended further.

Councillor Barrow said in his first four years as leader of the council the authority had made savings of £87 million with a ‘minimal impact on services’.

He said: “We have a very traumatic time ahead of us. We are being told we may have to find savings of up to £35 million next year.

“It is going to be a challenge, but it is one which we will rise to.

“By doing things differently we will be able to save money and not just provide the same service, but provide a better service.”

Councillor Barrow paid tribute to his fellow councillors, saying the savings the authority had already made could not have been achieved without their help.

He said: “Every one of you who helped me deserves a round of applause. We could not have done this if we had not worked as a team.”

Nominating Councillor Barrow as leader, chairman Councillor Malcolm Pate said he was the ‘right man in the right place’.

He said: “Over the last four years, he has done a great job overseeing these cuts largely without affecting frontline services for the people of Shropshire. I am sure we have the right man in the right place to deliver for Shropshire Council.”

Councillor Ann Hartley, who seconded the nomination, said: “It has been a very difficult four years and Keith has got us through in a very calm manner.”

But she warned: “I think the next four years could be even stormier.”

Comments for: "Shropshire Council planning further £35m cuts "

Bill Nuttall

I think a good way for the Council to save money would be to scrap Parish Councils. It would aslo save the Council Tax payer a fair few bob and with the money saved people could perhaps spend it in local shops to boost the local economy and create local jobs.

Jet

A genius way of saving money? That would save us precisely NOTHING as Parish Councils are voluntary.

If you had any interest in your community, Bill, might I suggest you stand as a Parish Councillor?

Perhaps you may then get an insight into the running of local government.

I am wondering how Mr Barrow is proposing to cur the road repair budget?

He spends little enough on it.

bono

Parish Councils cost nothing? CHECK YOUR BILL - they do nothing but cost ALOT! jobs for busy bodies to just paint bus stops and mow the village green #pointless

Baldeagle

I am sad that Bill has entered into a topic where it appears he has little knowledge on how Parish Councils Operate, they are not funded by Shropshire Council, but receives a payment from each household called a Precept.

This Precept is managed by local residents who receive no financial reward for the many hours of work undertaken, and are consumed by red tape with the associated costs from Central Government.

If Parish Councils could be converted to Local Associations then all the rules and regulation could be binned which would allow residents to use its precept without spending money on outdated policies and procedures.

Five Star to One Star

Mr Barrow may be the leader of the council but not sure he is the right man or has the knowledge to run the council. I would dispute the claim of the savings made, these are just figures plucked out of nowhere. The amount of money still being wasted is something of an eye opener with massive overspends on a number of budgets.

Due to the lack of clear experienced leadership more and more mistakes are being made each day.

ph7

there are only two ways the Council can afford that level of cuts, huge job losses and the cutting of services. To try and pass this off as not affecting frontline services is extremely misleading

Shrewsbury Mum

So the next round of cuts will be ‘very traumatic' but somehow miraculously also made '...with current levels of service not only maintained, but improved'. Which is it to be, better or worse? I think I can guess. For all councillors' claims, the cuts they have already made have had a huge impact on many families, and I can't see things improving with Keith Barrow still at the helm. I don't think I'll be joining him in applauding his team.

Robin Hood

"we will be able to save money and not just provide the same service, but provide a better service"

Is Keith Barrow having a laugh or does he not care. The Veolia waste contract is a prime example of what he wants do to with our services and we have a more expensive but poorer service.

Keith Barrow's rhetoric does not bare any resemblance to what is actually happening. We won't have better services, we'll have less, poorer services, with less people employed, more people on benefits because jobs are disappearing with nothing in their place.

It's a shame that the "better Tories" on Shropshire Council don't get together and stand up to Shropshire Council's one horse hatchet regime.

mark Carolan

I agree with you on this point the waste contract cost half a million more last year but they collected less top torys haven't got a clue. Eric pickles department spends more money on biscuits then most folk have to live on.

Robin Hood

"we will be able to save money and not just provide the same service, but provide a better service"

Keith Barrow is either having a laugh or he doesn't care.

Shropshire's waste contract is now being "done differently" by Veolia - we have a poorer service, it is costing us more. This is what Keith Barrow is planning for the rest of our services. Flogging them off to the lowest bidder, regardless of what type of service we have in the end.

Not only will we have less services but we'll have less people doing them, paid less which means that we'll have more people on benefits (either because they've lost their jobs or need benefits to top up low wages) and less money going into the local economy - less jobs = less money to spend.

It would seem that Keith Barrow will say anything to push through his agenda and, whether it is Shropshire Council's agenda or his own is unclear. He is on a mission and, we, the majority of residents of Shropshire (i.e the ones that aren't rich) who rely on Shropshire Council for our services, will be the losers.

DevilsChair

You hit the nail on the head as to much of why the likes of UKIP are finding popularity - politicians like the Council Leader treating the people of the UK as if they are stupid.

Making claims like cutting, but give better services does not wash, we know its plainly not true because we experience the outcome everyday.

So all the PR and guff you give out - why not be honest - why not say that it is going to hit front line services and people are going to die, get kicked out of jobs and their homes for no fault of their own and you are forced to do it by the central government (who, after all only devolve spending choices so you take the fall).

You might be peddling your party line - but this isn't London and the bubble.

Reminds me of rock stars who begin to believe their own publicity!

Oh_dearie_me

I'd be interested to hear how £35 million can be cut without affecting services adversely. If that were true, it would seem to suggest taxpayers have been getting mugged for years.

The free parking (for the first 15 minutes) is a good idea. Presumably the council is planning to provide community skateboards so that people can get around their local supermarket and do the weekly shop and still get out before the 15 minutes has elapsed.

eva land

As we have no right of reply to the article about the disgraceful use of public money for a small club that is the Shropshire Railway Anorak Society I will have to comment here.

The society has just recently managed to muster 100 members and now it has drifted up to £75,000 of tax payers money acknowledged as being spent. This does not include that the actual site is leased from Shropshire Council on valuable land that could have been sold for development of affordable housing.

At the time it was put through planning and the budget was over £100.000 over £1,000 was being spent per member of this club of tax payers money regarding railway history which is common to every part of the UK and will only incorporate visual boards that could easily have served the same purpose as a dedicated website. ( for the small number of enthusiasts who are remotely interested)

Normally this amount of taxpayers money spent on any project never mind a minor project would have to be able to show a financial return.

I ask our Mayor, John Tandy, colleague of the Councillor who is Chairman of the Heritage Rail way Society, how he justifies this blatent misuse of public money?

It does seem that the people of Shrewsbury are denied access to council meetings which many other authorities are now filming so residents can see democracy in action from their own computers, so I ask Keith Barrow why this is not on the agenda for Shropshire Council so we can have some transparency of how and where our money is spent and made. (other than from us)

smiler

The 15 minutes free parking in Shrewsbury is progress,although it looks like a gimmick.In Rochdale free parking is allowed in the late afternoon.

twiggo

Cllr Barrow tells us that:

The road ahead is going to be traumatic

He also tells us that:

By doing things differently we will be able to save money and not just provide the same service, but provide a better service. Not both.

So which is it?

I believe the first one.

We certainly don't have a better education service since the Council reorganised it - schools are dropping into special measures like flies while we have lost some of our much-loved and effective schools altogether.

I'm sure the elderly, house-bound people who used to have Meals on Wheels and now don't because it doesn't exist (because of Shropshire Council cuts) don't feel that they are getting a better service. Nor the users of the Grange Day Centre who now don't have a Day Centre. And the people who relied on bus services that have been cut because Shropshire Council have cut the subsidy - they don't have a better but cheaper service, they have no service. Cardboard recycling - we don't have a better, cheaper service. We are paying more and more each year to Veolia for less.

Do they think that if they repeat the Tory mantra "cuts without affecting frontline services for the people of Shropshire" often enough, we'll believe it?

Shropshire Council, under Keith Barrow's leadership is causing lots of trauma but, sadly, we don't have the bonus of better services. If they really believe that they are living in cloud-cuckoo land (or perhaps knowingly misleading us)

Ironic Ian

Hi Twiggo,

I think I know how things can be both "traumatic" and "better" with these cuts. It's all down to perspective. For example if you're a kid who goes to Wakeman its closure is traumatic and councillors giving themselves free iPads around the same time adds insult to injury. If you're a councillor with no stake in Wakeman you get a free iPad to play with. Traumatic for the kid, better for you, cut made. Result.

f f P

87 million already saved with minimal impact......? Either the council should be ashamed of itself when it could have managed with such a lot less OR as I probably suspect the savings are having a MASSIVE impact. I wouldn't believe anything that comes out of Shirehall, ask one thing; where will we all end up? especially as Mr barrow states we can loose ANOTHER 35 million..... Sheriff of Nottingham lives on in Shropshire.

Jet

Could someone explain to me how they are planning to police this wonderful gift of 15 minutes "free" parking?

How many new Parking Wardens will be required? (with stop-watches).

What happens when you have to spend 10 minutes in a queue to get out of the car park?

Can you visit for five minutes and get 10 minutes "Credit" against your next free visit?

Will all this "free time" be claimed as "saving" in the new £30 million Budget reduction?

helen

According to Malcolm Pate 'Over the last four years, [Keith Barrow] has done a great job overseeing these cuts largely without affecting frontline services for the people of Shropshire.' This seems to be the council's narrative at the moment. Keith Barrow even claims that he whenever he speaks he always asks if anyone has even noticed the cuts, but that nobody has. His council has closed day centres and schools, cut meals on wheels, and made lots of its employees redundant. Of course these cuts have affected people's lives, as have many of the other cuts. It is misleading and insulting to claim otherwise. If Keith Barrow claims that people haven't noticed it just shows how little the people who have been affected matter to him and tells us much more about his attitude to service users and employees than it does about the actual effects of his council's decisions. If there are more cuts to come, more will be affected.

Oh_dearie_me

I don't think Malcolm Pate is a particularly 'reliable witness', as it were.

This person was at the forefront of the campaign to have a unitary authority, despite considerable public opposition, presumably as he hoped for further personal advancement. Alas, we ended up with a unitary authority and alas Mr Pate didn't quite end up as far up the ladder as he thought.

I wouldn't pay much attention to him.

telford pete

why did you vote them back in ?

time for a change

a handful of oaps in rural parishes turn out each year and they get in my 100 votes,the system is broken, all the anti tories stay at home yet oaps turn out so they get what they want

Bill Nuttall

How about merging Telford and Wrekin Council with Shropshire County Council? It can only need one single major Council to run one County.

time for a change

why not go the whole hog and merge with wolverhamtpon too, makes sense for me and would save money and get more professional and high quality experienced councillors to run things then

Telford resident

As a Telford resident which you are clearly not, could I ask that this is shelved? We get great services, lots of investment etc. if Keith barrow and his gang got hold of Telford it would turn years of good development in to a complete waste of time. As someone who works under the sc umbrella, I think I can say first hand that services are run poorly as there is a terrible management system in place. Don't inflict that on us Telford residents! We don't want to be run from shrewsbury thank you very much!

Robin Hood

Would you really wish this lot in charge on the residents of Telford & Wrekin where there is more deprivation than in Shropshire and where a Conservative administration would be even more out of touch with the realities faced by its populus.

zztopfan

I wonder if the reduced budget would enable the councillor to buy a tie?

pete

I've got to put up with high spending or should I say wasting Telford and Wrekin Co-operative Council led by Kuldip Sahota. I see no real benefits from services and have to contribute more and more each year. The less local government have to spend the better we all are as these councils are now so politically biased - as to be stifled by ideological dogma and bear party prejudice , to forget whose benefit they are to serve. Keep it up Keith I say and good luck to him! If every aspect of governance in this country took this example the better off , more prosperous a country this would be. I as many am simply full to the brim with self interested views being the only ones which count be that public sector workers, unionists or politicians.

Disaffected

As commented above - how can it be that the "road ahead is going to be traumatic" but also “By doing things differently we will be able to save money and not just provide the same service, but provide a better service.”

These two statements are contradictory and cannot both be true. I suspect the first one is true and the second one is the well rehearsed Barrow-load of b*ll*cks that we keep hearing from Shropshire Council.

One thing seems certain, it won't be traumatic for Keith Barrow and his cronies who are paying themselves fat salaries while they vandalise the services that thousands of ordinary folk across the county rely on.

wayne

i agree with bill, lower tiers like parishes must go, mind does very little for £31 per year each! i feel for the people of shrewsbury most the town council taxes them loads just for hanging baskets - i do think taxes should go down and yet i want more investmnet in the frontline basics, like roads and bin collections - cardboard for starters = esssential! sort it out, sack a couple of those senior managers and it would pay for extra bin trcuks straight awy, nescliffe by pass needs repairing too as does the road into sainsbiry in meole - the councilor should get out of their suits and get on a hard hat and help fix potholes for the day, there is 70 of them just in shropshire council and hundredss more at parishes - that is moer than enough to collect cardboard and they get paid enugh, they cud get on their cars and come give us a door to door service i think thats the least they should do for us

time for a change

how many millions does the council now spend with viola landfilling cardboard which was previously being recycled? i feel an FOI request coming on, if the EU regulations caused this then vote ukip, pull out, we can get rid of barrow and the tories, compost cardboard again and have a BRITISH firm doing bins not for profit, not for paris and do a proper job

Fred

volunteer Councillors??? Parishes which dont cost anything????? Really????? Keith Barrow takes home over £40,000 a year for his noble "big society" voluntary part time job at the Council, for which he has the assistance of an army of proper managers and a PA, thats several wheel barrow loads of notes - should be enough to re-carpet a couple of schools or so hey ?

ted

i dont disagree that those savings could easily be made as the council is hideously beurocratic and wasteful from what ive observed they spend more on photocopiers than they do on proper services like clearing up the streets but i find it odd coming from a councillor as I noted at the recent council meeting that 70 Councillors were literally wining and dining at the taxpayers expense, I wonder if it may save a few bob to put the Councillors themselves onto austerity measures like the rest of the county. And he looked across from pig to councillor and back again and could see no difference (with due regard to george orwell) #snoutsinthetrough

paul

put a blue rosette on a sheep round here and people will vote for it, such a shame, its lions led by lambs the same rotton lot reelected year after year job for life and they dont know what real people who work full time to afford basic rent live like

Ray

is it just me, or didnt shrpshire county council before keith barrow enjoy some of the best schools in the uk and have 5 star excellent reports ?? so did shrewsubry and atcham, combine the two and now they are downhill and all schools in special mesures but honest the cuts down dont matter? really ? why all the standards slipping then? i say more of the same is not acceptable change the policies not just the carpets, there is a real need for some more intellectual thinking to be put into policies not just on the hoof and alos more community consutling is needed with real people not just nosy parish councils and special interest groups, the people must be heard the council should be more grass roots and they should get rid of barrow imo

Eddie Moreno

The whole rotten system is weeping with utter contempt from a public who loathe the entire lot of them they are cutting up OUR services to pay for tax cuts for billionaires and other chums of the Tory establishment such as landed gentry subsidised by agricultural land support from taxpayers, bankers in London getting bonuses from your taxes and other big businesses who legally pay less tax than a cleaner and joke about it. Wake up a smell the coffee people these parasites are only in it to protect their business ineterests look in. The dictionary poly Greek for many and tics means a type of blood sucking parasite!

Gary

I work for the council, my service team has been cut from 11 staff down to 2 but the demand from our community has remained the same.

I can tell you that front line services have been cut. One of my feequent replies to members of the public when they eventually get through to speak to me is 'we used to provide that service/support but not any more' the usual reply is a gasp followed by a comment like, 'how can they cut this service'

I would like to answer 'you get what you vote for - or in the case of Shropshire CBA why you didn't vote' but I can't and so I just apologise on behalf of the council and that's it.

The thing is that most people just accept the cuts and try to find otherways of resolving their issues but for many it is a real problem. If the real cuts in our services have not reached you yet then rest assured they will do, trouble is you will only notice it is missing when you really need it.

Could be the school that has closed or the crossing that is not being repaired the bus service you need the health control of your local food take away or support for elderly which most of us will need one day.

No matter what you hear from leaders that services are not being cut ....they are wrong and misleading you, still never mind, you can always make you feelings known at the ballot box!!! If you can be bothered.

Gary

Oh_dearie_me

The problem is.....will voting for another party (eg Labour) make much difference?

I suspect it won't. There is only so much that can be raised by increasing council tax (and other sneaky charges) year on year - which is what I presume they would do, although they are cagey about admitting it. That still wouldn't yield enough money to undo all the damage.

Take a look at some authorities where Labour are in control (eg parts of Wales) and you'll see rising council tax bills, worsening services, big payrises for bosses, broken promises and all the usual sorts forgetting why they were elected and all suddenly out for themselves. And I say that as someone who always in the past voted Labour.

We don't know what effect voting the Tories out would really have, because we have no idea how the opposing parties would run the council. There are some economic realities that HAVE to be dealt with.

But as the opposing political groups never actually tell us what they'd do, how can we make an informed choice as to an alternative?

Gary

Oh dearie me... Glad to see that it's not just local councillors who miss the point.... Front line services will not be affected!!

Gary

Real realist

I am really at a loss to understand the plain ignorance of people regarding what goes on at parish councils, who gets paid and who pays for it all. You getting nothing for free! All the money spent comes from the taxpayer, you and I, and most of it is spent paying wages and pension contributions for officers of the council. Further most parish councils pay attendance allowance to councillors often equating to £50 per monthly meeting. It also allows councillors to pick their favourite local charity and grant them some money to win some brownie points. All for a completely powerless body which spends most of the time duplicating the services the borough or unitary council provide. There is no argument get rid of parish councils and millions will be saved. People are so lethargic these days they can't be bothered to vote and parish councils usually exist because some people offer to stand and others are co opted. It makes me laugh when I see someone in the press described as the mayor of a totally unelected body. Mayor used to mean something.

eva land

Make your feelings known at the ballot box Gary? Where exactly would that get you?

There is no difference in Shropshire between Labour Conservative, Liberal Dem or Independent they all work together towards the bigger picture, that is,primarily their personal self interests.

Council employees can be and are appallingly treated because with no Standards Board for England ( another one of Eric Pickles many badly thought out decisions) Councillors are now completely free to bully and intimidate officers with no adverse consequences like suspension or negative publicity as their actions are now dealt with by Shropshire Council itself.

That elected members are better off financially than qualified professionals with no line managers, budget restrictions ( the public purse is it appears, very generous) interviews for time off sick etc etc it is a travesty claiming that it can be called public service when we actually pay for it.

The system stinks with the same Councillors for decades and little transparency of their actions and usefulness.

jonjo

We are already overloaded with politicians at national level, 650 MP's, 800 in House of Lords, 150+ Euro MP's so why the need of more tiers of government - Parish Councils set their own precept which we all have to pay (Great Dawley Parish Council 4.5% increase this year to £313,000 per annum) if Parish Councils were run on a voluntary basis it would reduce community tax bills and could involve more community involvement - lets see politicians set an example by reducing the number of councillors at both County and Borough levels by at least 30+% - that's the way to save money.