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York will start to feel the pinch.


6:15am 24th November 2010

Savings in Business and Environmental Services

A series of proposals for saving more than £10 million from the budgets of services such as highways maintenance, road safety, countryside, the arts, and bus subsidies has been drawn up by North Yorkshire County Council in the face of major cuts in funding from central Government.

But the council is pledging that  essential frontline services will be maintained, and that safety issues will always be treated as top priority.

The suggested savings have been outlined in a report to the Transport, Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, for its meeting on November 24.  They follow last month's Comprehensive Spending Review, in which the Government confirmed that local authorities will have to cut millions of pounds from their budgets over the next four years - almost half of it within the next 16 months.  

The Business and Environmental Services directorate (BES) has to find savings of £10.2 million out of its total budget of £69 million between now and March 2015.  

"We have no choice but to introduce these cuts," said County Councillor Clare Wood, one of two Executive Members for BES.  "Drastic action is required to address the national deficit, and North Yorkshire County Council is determined to play its part.  But we are equally determined to protect the essential services on which so many people rely."

County Councillor Gareth Dadd, who is also an Executive Member for BES, added: "We are required to make savings of more than £10 million, so there will inevitably be an impact on our activities.  

"But we will not compromise on any service which affects people's safety - particularly on our highways."

One of the Government cutbacks is a reduction of more than £1 million in the road safety grant.

"Clearly road safety is vitally important and we are now looking at how we deliver road safety in a different way," said David Bowe, the Corporate Director of BES, who is also the current chairman of the 95 Alive road safety partnership.  "For example we are developing road safety education that could sit within the school curriculum."

A saving of some £1.25 million will be made by introducing more responsive highways maintenance work.  The result will be that non essential works may not be carried out as quickly as previously.

"In the past, some works may have been done within a few days.  However, if a defect is not classed as being hazardous, it will now be included in a longer term programme which could mean a delay of several weeks."

A proposal to withdraw the subsidy for evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday bus services - currently being discussed in a county-wide consultation exercise - would lead to savings of £600,000.

"We are looking to minimise redundancies by developing staff to cover more varied functions and create flexibility," added Mr Bowe.  "However, it is inevitable given the scale of reductions that there will be redundancies."

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