FURTHER funding cuts could force local authorities in the region to axe all but essential services, senior councillors warned today (Wednesday).
Council chiefs said officials were already working on a “Doomsday scenario” where budget cuts meant they could only run adult and children’s services, and waste collections.
Speaking following the publication of the Association of North East Council’s (Anec) report on the impact of cuts, council leaders said they had a statutory duty to provide some services, but all other non-statutory services where at risk if the Government continued to slash funding.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland Council and chair of Anec, said: “In Sunderland we have a statutory duty to protect the most vulnerable people by safeguarding children and protecting vulnerable adults.
“It’s quite easy to see that the cuts will have to fall elsewhere - sport and leisure, and culture for example.”
Councillor Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Council, also warned of a widespread scaling back of services.
“There will be the provision of care to children and vulnerable adults, the emptying of the bills and you can forget about everything else,” he said.
“There won’t be the money – a lot of authorities are already working on what they call the Doomsday scenario where we get to that position.”
Councillors claim North-East authorities are suffering disproportionally as the Government attempts to reduce the deficit, and even subsidising well-off councils in the South.
Coun Stuart Drummond, the mayor of Hartlepool, said: “To miss-quote the Prime minister we are all in this together - but some of us are paying a lot more.
He added: “The cuts are having a disproportionate impact on council’s in the North East including Hartlepool, as they are being applied a percentage reduction in grants, rather than cuts per head of population.”