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Cabinet agrees budget to save £10m

North Tyneside Council's headquarters at The Quadrant.
North Tyneside Council's headquarters at The Quadrant.

North Tyneside Council’s Cabinet last night agreed a budget package to protect essential services while saving more than £10million over the next financial year.

The largest proportion of savings, a total of £6million, will be made by re-organising how the council does things and streamlining structures.

A further £1.5million will be saved by improving procurement processes, and offering residents more opportunities to do things for themselves.

Other savings include reducing opening hours in libraries and moving to alternative weekly bin collections.

The authority says it is being forced to make savings in response to funding cuts from central Government and increased demand for costly services.

Savings will come from a package designed to protect essential services across the borough.

They include:

Reducing opening hours in libraries. The four main libraries – at Killingworth, Wallsend, Whitley Bay and North Shields – will remain open five days a week and half a day on a Saturday.Branch libraries will open two weekdays and half a day on Saturdays.

The council says it has invested £20million in the library services and these changes will ensure all 14 libraries in the borough can remain open. It will be approaching some of the community groups who have had their say to see how they can be more involved with the service.

Changing the way social care services are commissioned. This will ensure residents receive tailored packages that suit their individual needs and support is targeted at those who need it most.

Continuing to deliver a new model to support children that focuses on early help and provides appropriate residential support for children that need it.

Protecting high environmental standards across the borough by focusing ground maintenance services on the issues that matter most to residents and introducing more efficient machinery and equipment.

Moving to alternative weekly bin collections. Government funding to support weekly collections has now ended. Moving to alternative weekly collections reflects residents’ priorities to do more recycling and send less waste to landfill. Work will continue to support those residents who have specific additional needs.

Residents gave their views on savings proposals from November to January, and their feedback was used to shape the 2018/19 budget.

The nationally recommended increase in council tax was approved by Cabinet. This includes a three per cent increase to support the rising costs of adult social care and a 1.99 per cent general council tax increase. This means that two thirds of the extra money coming from council tax will go directly into frontline services to provide social care for elderly and vulnerable adults in line with rising demand.

The council says it will continue to invest in projects that are key priorities to residents, including road and pavement repairs, and deliver the next stages in the regeneration of Wallsend and Whitley Bay, as well as ambitious new plans for North Shields, Forest Hall and Killingworth.

Cabinet also agreed plans to support local people who want to get more involved in their local community through volunteering. It will discuss detailed proposals around volunteering opportunities later in the year.

Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We have had to make some tough choices again this year to ensure we can continue to provide good-quality services with reduced funding.

“The package of savings we are considering protects essential and frontline services as much as possible, and ensures the council works better for local people.

“North Tyneside has a strong track record of high educational attainment, excellent business support and its award-winning environment. These proposals will help us to maintain those high standards and make sure the borough continues to be a great place to live, work and visit.”

Full council will receive the 2018/19 budget proposals at its meeting on Thursday, February 1.