PLANS to cut nearly £15m from Middlesbrough Council’s budget have been confirmed tonight (Monday, September 20) as the town’s mayor revealed his spending plans for the coming financial year.
Ray Mallon also confirmed the loss of 300 council jobs while another 300 will be transferred to other organisations contracted to carry out some council services.
Before the meeting, protesters from Teesside People's Assembly against Austerity gathered outside Middlesbrough Town Hall to express their anger at the cuts that they believe have been forced on council’s by the government.
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Outlining the plans, Mr Mallon spoke for almost 50 minutes as he outlined the proposals at a special meeting of the full council.
In total he identified 40 areas he had earmarked for cuts including the closure of Clairville Stadium, the Middlesbrough Teaching and Training Centre, the TAD Centre and the Register Office.
While service cuts would see a reduction in the amount of grass cutting, grounds maintenance and litter picking, and a reduction in leisure centre opening hours.
And he reassured councillors that plans to contract out services did not mean that he intended privatising them.
He said: “Where it is in the council’s best interests for services to be delivered externally, this should occur.
“This does not mean, however, that the council will abdicate responsibility for the town or our employees.”
The mayor believes most posts will be lost through voluntary redundancy but could not rule the need for compulsory measures to be taken.
Amongst the proposed cuts announced in November, the mayor made two changes to his plans.
He said after consultation with unions, he has withdrawn plans to cut essential car user allowances to staff, introduce parking charges to staff and cut overtime.
The recommendation to be changed will see funding increased for community councils instead of it being scrapped all together while also making a u-turn on time allocated to union activities at the council.
Speaking before the meeting, People's Assembly activist Alan Theasby said: "The proposed redundancies will have a terrible impact in Middlesbrough and beyond, depriving hundreds of hardworking public servants of their livelihoods.
“Vital public services for some of the most vulnerable people in our community will be scrapped or sold to profit-seeking companies under the mayor’s budget plans. We call upon Labour councillors to show how they will resist the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition’s vicious attacks on our town."
The proposed draft budget will go before councilors in February before it is finalised in March.