REVEALED: 40 libraries, five museums and two adult education centres among massive cuts announced by Lancashire County Council

County Hall
County Hall
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Hundreds of jobs are set to be axed by Lancashire County Council and much-loved services ended in a massive shake-up of council provision.

Budget proposals announced on Monday show how the authority plans to save £65m over the next two years, resulting in the loss of an estimated 367 full time jobs.

These posts will go on top of hundreds already agreed and council leader County Coun Jennifer Mein has warned that some will be compulsory.

She said: “The reality of our financial situation is such that we will have to use the bulk of our reserves just to balance the budget over the next two years. And by 2017/18, we will only just have enough money to pay for our statutory services.

“The scale of the challenge means that we will have to make ever more difficult decisions. We will do all that we can, and are targeting our resources towards those with the greatest need, but we will have to reduce or stop services and people will notice the difference. Our priority will remain to protect the most vulnerable people in communities across Lancashire.”

The job losses would be in addition to the 1,100 staff who have already left the authority, having taken voluntary redundancy since January 2014.

At the same time the council says it will continue to work on delivering savings agreed last year, adding up to a further saving of almost £148m over the period 2015/16 to 2017/18 and a further reduction of more than 500 full-time equivalent posts.

The new cuts proposed will see:

l Funding slashed for all subsidised bus services, to save £7.5m per year, affecting 59 routes with many possible closures

l Reducing the county council’s library network from 74 libraries to 34, to save some £7m

l Close five museums: Queen Street Mill, Helmshore, Museum of Lancashire, Judges’ Lodgings, Fleetwood Museum

l Removing the subsidy for discretionary denominational transport to faith schools

l Reducing the Highways budget by £2.8m

l Closure of 108 out of 220 county council owned properties.

l Closure of Alston Hall college, Longridge -which provides many adult courses, by December

l Closing the Woodlands conference centre at Chorley and the Leyland Learning centre by March 31, 2017 with the creation of a new conference centre at county hall

l Ending free accessible transport services for all adults attending day centres from September 1, 2016. This would affect 126,900 journeys made by elderly and 137,900 journeys made each year learning and physically disabled and sensory impaired people.

l Axing the Heritage and Arts Service from April 2016

l Cut support for Blackpool Tramway maintenance which could threaten the county’s entire tram service.

l Ending the Countryside Service completely by April 2018

l Cut support for the Knott End ferry, which would mean the service is likely to cease with the ending of 50,000 passenger journeys a year

l Residents’ parking charges will be £25 from January 1.

l Whitehough Outdoor Education Centre at Barley will close next August

l New fees will be introduced at county bus stations for bus companies - including Preston and Chorley bus stations with bus company fees trebling to £1.50 for each departure from April 2016.

l At least seven directors jobs will go with more than three staff to leave the council’s executive support team.

l The welfare rights service will be reduced by a fifth

l The council’s skills, learning and development service will be cut by a quarter

l The Trading Standards service will be reorganised and trimmed.

l Charges will go up and hours be reduced at the county archive service

l There will be more remote monitoring of landfill sites with county staff “only responding to high risk situations”

l The council has warned that some types of highways remedial work will no longer be carried out, but it has pledged cuts will be achieved without compromising safety

l Some of the waste processing activities at Farington and Thornton waste recovery parks, will be cut and the co-composting of mingled food and garden waste will cease. It is predicted many of the waste company staff will face redundancy.

The proposals will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday November 26.

Deputy leader David Borrow, cabinet member with responsibility for finance, said: “It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of our financial situation.

“Prudent financial management has enabled the council to build up significant reserves, that is money we can call on to cover unexpected events.

“The scale of the savings we have to make means that we will have to use almost all of that money just to balance the books. And we know that we will still face a shortfall of £56m in 2018/19.”