THE future of Darlington will be shaped by £12.5 million of council budget cuts that are set to be approved later this month.

A 1,000 page document was released by Darlington Borough Council yesterday (Wednesday, June 15) detailing a “four year efficiency plan” that will impact every department overseen by the authority including social services, health, libraries, street cleaning, children's centres, Christmas lights and floral displays.

An ultimate decision to impose the multi-million pound savings package will be finalised this month despite widespread protests and opposition to the original proposals issued in February.

The authority’s plans to reduce spending remain largely unchanged from their initial state and more than 111 council staff now face redundancy in the coming months.

Further redundancies will hit private sector companies which will no longer be used.

Among the immediate financial implications, residents will be required to pay council tax set at 3.99 per cent until at least 2020.

A council spokesman said that the final set of budget proposals were necessary after the authority received a lower amount of funding from Central Government – which means the authority must cut £10 million from its budget by 2020, on top of £37.3m cuts made since 2010.

Under the plans set to be approved by councillors on Wednesday, June 22, Darlington’s Crown Street Library will close and relocate to the Dolphin Centre with the loss of 25 staff members.

The mobile library service will also be scrapped however Cockerton Library has been given a stay of execution with councillors deferring its closure until March 31.

Organisations including Age UK, Citizens Advice Bureau, Darlington Association on Disability, First Stop, Groundwork, Volunteer Bureau, Gay Advice Darlington and Carers for Disabled Children in Darlington currently share £195,000 worth of grants.

But from 2017/18, the eight organisations will be forced to share just £15,000 between them.

The Dolphin Centre’s annual budget will continue to stand at £779,000 alongside a £228,000 budget for the Head of Steam railway museum.

Cutbacks will also be made to the town’s street cleaning services with the team looking after litter bins, litter picking and back lane cleansing being reduced from 31 members of staff to 19.

The cut will mean the council will no longer investigate environmental crime issues or issues fixed penalty notices.

Grassed areas in the town are set to be cut every 39 days instead of 12 to 15 days – resulting in seven redundancies for parks staff.

Within the town centre, residents will notice High Row’s water feature will be switched off and floral displays will not be planted to save money.

Financial contributions to the Homelessness and Substance Misuse Service will also end with the disposal of the office of the Drug, Alcohol & Tobacco Commissioning team resulting in four job losses. This will save about £276,941.

Face-to-face support in adult social care services will be replaced with alternatives such as information and advice, more community support and better use of technology.

Council Leader Bill Dixon said: “I think we understand the upset that this is causing, but this is purely as a result of our budgets being cut and over and above that, pressures being put on the authority through things like adult social care.

“The cost of social care is rising and the amount we can take in is falling.

“We are not making cuts anymore, we’re dismantling a local authority and that is happening all over the north – not the south.

“People need to recognise that by 2020, there may be no local democracy. Some people will be glad because that council’s gone, but they’ll miss us when we’re gone.”

Following months of public consultation, Darlington Borough Council have made 15 changes to the original plan, which includes deferring the closure of The Bridges arts centre until March 2017.

A proposal to implement reduced support for disabled children up to three years old will also be deferred until next April to allow the service to be “redesigned”.

The final budget proposals will be discussed at a special cabinet meeting at 5pm on Wednesday, June 22, in the Town Hall before councillors vote on the changes on Wednesday, June 29.