Bus passes and Cleethorpes' illuminations hit hard by council cuts
ILLUMINATIONS in Cleethorpes and bus passes are the latest casualties of strict budget cuts.
North East Lincolnshire Council is currently reviewing what it spends the borough's money on in an attempt to save £14 million in 2013/14, and the second budget setting meeting of six was held at Grimsby Town Hall last night.
One of the main changes to be proposed by the council is to increase to 50p the charge to bus pass holders before 9.30am.
Currently it is 30p and NELC subsidises travel for those with bus passes, but from April 1 they hope the extra money gained by charging would create an extra £47,000.
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Council leader Chris Shaw said: "There is still a 70p saving for people using a bus pass so it is still worth it and the extra money is needed."
The use of colourful banners in Cleethorpes instead of illuminations in the summer months would also save an extra £15,000.
Councillor Shaw continued: "The question is do we really need them on when a good efficiency saving could be made?
"The illuminations have little effect in the summer and using colourful banners instead will save money and bring something new."
Increasing the amount of energy-efficient street lighting in the borough will also save £175,000 over the next year when orange low-pressure sodium lamps are replaced with white LEDs.
Although cuts are a large part of any budget, deciding what should not be done is also as important.
It was found that the removal of unnecessary signs and other street furniture could cost £120,000 and based on this, anything that does not need removing will be left as long as it is safe.
Councillor Ray Oxby said: "It is not cost-effective or appropriate at this time for us to consider this."
And Councillor Peter Wheatley added: "When something is worn out and not needed, it will not be replaced. If something is falling down or if there is a safety aspect we will remove it, but if not it will stay."
The seriousness of budget setting was also made clear in last night's Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Panel – the second of six panel meetings to discuss specific aspects of the overall budget.
Councillor Wheatley added: "We cannot leave any stone unturned in this budget.
"Talking about statutory and non-statutory services like a cow that can be slaughtered is not the way to look at this budget. We have a duty of care."
We would like to point out that the photograph accompanying yesterday's report about child and adolescent mental health services was used in error. Adult services are not affected by the cuts detailed in the article.