1,200 Doncaster Council jobs to go, care homes and day centres to close and council tax to rise under £109m cuts

Ros Jones.  Picture: Andrew Roe
Ros Jones. Picture: Andrew Roe

People across the borough will begin to feel the cuts deepen as the council makes 1,200 people redundant and increases Council tax.

Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, has laid out where the axe will fall over the next three years as part of the latest £109million wave of cuts.

In brief the key cuts to services will be:

- At least 1,200 council jobs will be lost

- Four day care centres will be closed (at Conisbrough Social Education Centre, Cedar Social Education Centre, Thorne Social Education centre and Askarne Day Centre - all planned for closure in 2014/15)

- Council tax will rise by just under two per cent per year

- A further eight libraries will become community-managed (libraries in Askern, Armthorpe, Bentley, Cantley, Conisbrough, Hatfield, Tickhill and Woodlands are all seen as having the potential to be community-run)

- The council will scrap all of its £2.1m funding for the borough’s leisure facilities.

- 70 per cent of the council’s 461 buildings, which cost £12m a year to run will be reduced

- Council-run care homes will undergo a phased closure

- Rent for Council tenants will increase by 3.7per cent

- The council is looking to close eight children’s centres and nine youth service buildings, but have not yet decided which buildings will close.

The initial proposals were outlined in October, and following an extensive consultation period, the council has announced today that it plans to close four day care centres

The council has also detailed how it plans to scrap all of its annual £2.1million of funding for the borough’s leisure facilities - with a remaining subsidy of just £500,000 from public health.

Over 1,200 council jobs will also be lost, council tax will rise by just under two per cent and all council-run care homes will undergo a phased closure.

A further eight libraries will become community managed, eight children’s centres and nine youth buildings are set for closure, rent for council tenants will increase by 3.7 percent from April 7 and 70 per cent of the council’s 461 buildings, which cost £12million a year to run, will be reduced.

Mayor Jones said she did not relish the tough decisions ahead and hoped people would understand that what she was proposing was rational and thought through.

“I have been working with officers in every part of the council to undertake a root and branch assessment of what we currently provide. The simple truth is that we cannot stay the same,” said Mayor Jones, adding: “I fully recognise that some of these proposals will not sit easy with people but we have to work within the financial constraints we are faced with.”

“This is me putting in place a proper financial strategy of how we are going to tackle these Draconian cuts, and how we can drive Doncaster’s economy forward.”

“I am clear that even through these stark Government cuts, this council will always be a strong advocate for local people and a champion for our borough.”

“More than ever we all have to work together for the benefit of Doncaster,”

A further £17million of savings still needs to be made to cover the £109million budget gap, which the council hopes to find by early spring.

Mrs Jones said the remaining £17million of cuts still to make would be ‘the hardest to find so far’.

The Mayor has also outlined her proposals for spending on major projects known as capital programmes.

This is separate to her revenue budget proposals where funds are spend on running costs.

These are funds that cannot be spent on paying for services but on building and major infrastructure projects.

Her proposals include £339million worth of capital investment in the borough over the next three years, including £149million during 2014/15.

This includes investment in education, housing, infrastructure, leisure and culture as well as boosting tourism and attracting investors.

She said: “We cannot afford to stand still as a borough and this investment is vital to keep our ambitions alive.”

“We need to invest in growth and job creation and capital funds give us the platform from which to do that. I am determined that the borough thrives economically with more businesses and opportunities being developed,” added Mayor Jones.”

The plans outlined today will still need to be approved by the council cabinet at a full council meeting on February 20.

* Mayor Ros Jones has no relatives on the Doncaster Council cabinet. Deputy Mayor Glyn Jones is not related to Mrs Jones. Her husband Alan is a backbench councillor.