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Council budget - cuts 'unavoidable'

Published: 7 Mar 2012 07:302 comments

COUNCIL tax will be frozen for the second year in a row in Bracknell Forest.

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An average Band D home will continue to be charged £1,093.95 for its council services.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday last week, Bracknell Forest Council's ruling Conservative group successfully put forward a 2012/13 budget with a net spend of £72.3m and £6m of savings, including a reduction in grant to South Hill Park arts centre and closing four children's centres.

Bracknell borough's executive member for finance, resources and assets, Cllr Alan Ward, told councillors the council had received less money from the Government, due to its plans to reduce the national deficit, and would be using £394,000 from balances.He said: "This year has seen, we believe, the largest reduction that we will have to bear and a result it has been difficult to achieve the scale of reductions necessary to balance the budget."

The council agreed to cut its grant to South Hill Park in Birch Hill by £85,000 to £419,140. The grant to youth advice service Connexions was cut by £150,000.

The council also agreed to close four satellite children's centres to save £42,000: The Sycamores in Crown Wood and Harmans Water; The Hollies in Binfield; The Maples in Warfield and Winkfield, and The Chestnuts in Crowthorne and Little Sandhurst. The council is planning to introduce car park charges at The Look Out Discovery Centre and Coral Reef Swimming Pool, both in Nine Mile Ride, with refunds for their customers.

Councillors also voted not to renew the Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) project and to reduce the number of breaks provided by the Aiming High for Disabled Children (AHDC) initiatives.

The two-strong Labour opposition proposed an amended budget using £416,000 of balances each year for four years to fund Aiming High, TaMHS and The Sycamores children's centre.

Labour leader Cllr Mary Temperton said: "These cuts affect some of the most vulnerable in the borough - those least likely to protest. But the effects will not be hidden - they will show through very quickly."

However, Conservatives said the council savings must be made, the reserves are needed for a "rainy day" and they hoped to continue some of the work that the projects did within the remaining council resources.

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