Bolton Council is proposing changes to street cleaning, grass cutting and parks, as part of plans to save £1.3m over the next two years.
The council must make savings of over £40m between 2013 and 2015, which represents over 20% of the council’s controllable budget of £178m. This is on top of £60m of savings made since 2010.
Each department has had to outline detailed proposals for delivering these savings and Environmental Services must deliver savings of £6.75m, of which £1.3m comes from Neighbourhood and Regulatory Services.
Neighbourhood Services includes street cleansing, grounds maintenance, education and enforcement, pest control and the management of parks and open spaces. Meanwhile Regulatory Services provides a range of statutory functions consisting of food safety, health and safety, pollution control, trading standards, licensing and consumer protection services.
Neighbourhood and Regulatory Services has therefore put forward a range of proposals for changing the way in which it delivers services, whilst continuing to deliver statutory functions including street cleansing, asset management, food hygiene, health and safety and pollution control.
With regards to street cleaning, the council is proposing to change its cleaning schedules, so that larger areas of the borough will be cleaned less frequently, either every 8 weeks or every 18 weeks. It is also proposing to reduce the number of large sweepers and pavement sweepers and remove a total of 18 vehicles from the service. This will also mean a reduction in the number of dedicated fly tip and litter teams.
With regards to grass cutting services, the council is proposing to reduce the number of full time posts, but increase the number of seasonal positions in the service from 7 to 20, in order to meet demand. However, this will mean less staff to deal with winter tasks.
With regards to parks and open spaces, the council is proposing the closure of Animal World. Following earlier proposals to close Animal World, an action group was formed by local residents and it was agreed to introduce a charge for visitors and to increase volunteering with a view to reducing the cost of the facility. This has had some success and generated a small amount of income towards the running of the butterfly house.
However, the facility still costs the council £80,000 a year to run and the council does not feel it can be retained at the expense of further reductions in cleansing, grass cutting and other essential services.
The council is also proposing the removal of all Ranger posts in the parks. Whilst the Rangers provide a range of services to the public, if these posts were retained, further reductions in cleanliness would be required.
As Regulatory Services provides a range of statutory functions to the public, including food safety, health and safety and pollution control, these functions must be maintained. However, the council is proposing to reduce the number of posts delivering consumer advice, as this is not a statutory function.
Overall, Neighbourhood and Regulatory Services will continue to provide as many services as possible, but will be reducing non-essential expenditure and is proposing the revise the structure, including removing 31 posts across all levels of the workforce.
Councillor Nick Peel, Executive Cabinet Member for Environment, Regulatory Services and Skills/Councillor Aktar Zaman, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood and Community Services said:
“The council must make savings of £40m and Neighbourhood and Regulatory Services must therefore deliver £1.3m of savings over the next two years.
“We have therefore proposed a number of changes to the way we deliver these services, whilst continuing to deliver statutory functions including street cleansing, maintenance of parks and open spaces, food hygiene and health and safety.
“We recognise that residents will be concerned about the proposed closure of Animal World and the removal of Rangers from the parks, but we have taken the difficult decision to remove these services, rather than make further cuts to street cleaning and grass cutting.
“We will consult and communicate regularly with all staff, unions, businesses, residents and partner organisations to manage the impact of these reductions fairly and aim to minimise the impact on front line service delivery wherever possible.”
To give your views on the proposals please go to www.bolton.gov.uk/consultations to complete an on-line form or pick a paper version up from the One Stop Shop at Bolton Town Hall.