Plans to cut services in new budget

HARROGATE Council plans to withdraw from the running of the Rossett Sports Centre.

Council leader Don Mackenzie said the proposal was the only contentious aspect of this year’s budget, which recommends service cuts of £117,150, compared to £879,650 last time around.

The council also plans to freeze council tax, using a one-off Government grant.

Coun Caroline Bayliss, cabinet member for cultural services, said management of Rossett would only transfer from the council if the future of the facilities could be secured, with either the county council or Rossett School taking over.

“This is the very start of a process and all the work has got to be put in, but we would only go ahead with this if it could be kept open under another guise,” she said.

Coun Mackenzie told the Advertiser this was the only proposed frontline cut. “I suppose the most contentious thing is the fact that officers are looking at Rossett Sports Centre,” he said.

“They have a duty to put to us all the options that offer value for money and of all of the cuts that we are considering, I think that’s the only one that would affect the general public. Otherwise we’re well on the way now to getting a balanced budget.

“It’s a significant achievement. We’re very pleased.”

Coun Mackenzie told cabinet on Wednesday that there was “pain” in the budget, but that it was being borne by the council rather than residents.

Aside from the service cuts (see box below), which are in departments unable to find three per cent efficiency savings, the council hopes to save £400,000 at the HIC, three-quarters of that through restructuring and outsourcing.

It plans to reduce the green garden waste scheme service between December and February to save £40,000, cut grants to voluntary organisations by £5,650 and increase all fees and charges by at least four per cent.

The council has put aside £135,500 for “growth items”: £50,000 for the destination management organisation, £5,250 for an employee survey and £10,000 to provide match funding for the Christmas lights.