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Services to go as Shropshire Council budget facing £77 million cut

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More than £77 million will be cut from Shropshire Council's budget in the next five years with a number of services set to disappear.

The authority has admitted that financial constraints will mean it will no longer provide several of the variety of the services it currently delivers – although it has outlined nine areas which will be "protected" from cuts.

An official report compiled by the authority's finance officer James Walton has set out the council's finances for the next five years.

It states: "Because we are protecting budgets for the vulnerable so we need to save money in other areas and many of these budgets will reduce to zero."

In response to the announcement, both the council's chief executive Clive Wright, and leader Councillor Keith Barrow have warned that further cuts in funding from the Government are unsustainable.

Mr Wright said: "We are in a very different era where the public will not get services in the same way."

The chief executive said the council would continue to lobby Government for an end to cuts in funding.

The report adds: "While we remain optimistic over the future and our ability to manage a massively reducing budget we are at a point where we cannot sustain further government cuts.

"We will join other local authorities the Rural Services Network and the Local Government Association in lobbying government to adequately fund vital services."

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Councillor Barrow also admitted that the council would require fewer employees as it moves towards commissioning services rather than providing them, but said exact figures could not be confirmed until a restructuring review is completed.

The cuts follow on from savings of £146 million made since 2012.

Under the authority's proposals for 2016/17 through to 2020/21, budgets for adult social care, adult safeguarding, school transport, the child protection team, waste disposal and collection will all be protected.

However, other service areas have been designated for 'decommissioning' while others are listed as "temporary" - those services potentially affected have not been identified in the report.

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Councillor Barrow said the authority would now be conducting a "big conversation" with the public to see what services they consider are most important.

He said: "If we feel a service is particularly valued by the public, rather than just brutally stop doing it we will look to put a plan in place to try and keep doing it."

The council leader also reiterated a commitment to freezing Council Tax, although he said they would reconsider if people indicated a willingness to pay more.

He said: "My own view is we have to do everything we can out of our own budget before taxing the population, but as part of the big conversation that will be asked and if people want to pay more then they can."

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