Stockbridge depot saved, but Bradford council cuts community halls and other services to move forward
PLANS to close the Stockbridge depot were dropped by cash-strapped Bradford Council.
But the local authority’s management team are largely sticking to a major program of cuts after its leader said it “could not afford” to reverse them.
News of the U-turn at the Stockbridge site was one of the few concessions accepted by the executive yesterday.
Last minute appeals to protect bowling alleys and community halls from cuts have been made.
However, premises such as Silsden Town Hall, Holden Hall in Oakworth and the Denholme Mechanics’ Institute will close unless groups take over.
The executive accepted a fund of Â£ 100,000 to support groups seeking to appropriate community assets.
Denholme City Councilor Jacqui MacFarlane, who was present at the meeting, said:. They deserve better than this.
Now, planned cuts to a slew of city services, from social care to public toilets, are expected to be approved tomorrow at the authority’s annual budget meeting, despite a public consultation that has seen thousands raise objections by through petitions, letters and meetings.
Bradford Council’s union adviser, Councilor Susan Hinchcliffe, has confirmed that most of the “painful and grim” cuts her authority proposed in December remain on the table, including the loss of 416 additional jobs over two years.
She said: âUnfortunately, we have not been able to reverse the proposals for major cuts in this budget. We cannot afford it.
Cllr Hinchcliffe sharply criticized the government’s austerity program, calling it a ‘choice, not necessity’, and said the authority had to find an additional Â£ 82million in cuts by 2020, it had to hit the “people want to keep” services.
After the meeting, Tory Opposition Leader Councilor Simon Cooke questioned whether this was a real public consultation.
He said, “We have this consultation, at a considerable cost, and then we don’t do anything with the results, other than say ‘thank you very much’.”
The Conservative group welcomed the change of mind regarding the Stockbridge depot.
Worth Valley Ward Councilor Russell Brown said: “I have been constantly pushing for the Stockbridge depot to stay open since council announced plans to close it and I’m glad council saw the sense.
“It was a strange proposition at first. It was obvious to me – and should have been obvious to Labor advisers – that rather than producing an economy, it would still be a bogus economy. The economy they were trying to achieve. Getting it was only a few thousand pounds and there was even no hope of that.
“If this wacky idea had been implemented, it would have drastically increased council costs by increasing the fuel and driving time required by sand pits and other council vehicles to deal with ice, snow and other problems. highways in Keighley and surrounding areas, when they had been moved to depots in other parts of the Bradford District.
“Every aspect of the proposal was flawed and I have emphasized this from day one. I am glad that Labor advisers have finally recognized my point and done the right thing.”