Axe is looming over services

Visit to Fords factory in Bedford, from left  Laura Whincup, CEO of Fords, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford. PNL-151202-175212001
Visit to Fords factory in Bedford, from left Laura Whincup, CEO of Fords, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford. PNL-151202-175212001

All frontline services are in the firing line as borough bosses try to balance the books.

The first wave of ‘grave’ cuts have been drawn up to meet shrinking budgets at borough hall.

Mayor Dave Hodgson has warned it will be a ‘long gruelling process’ as Bedford Borough Council attempts to plug a £25 million funding gap by 2019.

The council has already made £81 million of savings through cuts to its operations but now the public is going to start feeling the pinch as the axe looms over all services.

Council tax is expected to be increased by 1.5 per cent annually for the next four years and Mr Hodgson said no services are out of bounds as the council desperately attempts to save cash.

“There is a real threat to services and that is at crisis level now,” he said.

Initial cuts and money-saving measures have been drawn up and will be put before the council’s executive next Wednesday (October 7).

They include axing the council’s summer play schemes, scrapping funding for reducing speed limits and investing in average speed cameras, reducing opening hours at the customer service centre and withdrawing funding from the Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership.

Other cuts include changes to school transport policies to save £80,000, reducing the number of public toilets, removal of dog warden and pest control posts and discontinuing separate dog litter collections.

Mr Hodgson said: “This is the start of the process. I can’t see this process not lasting a whole four years and being pretty horrific and at crisis level.”

The funding gap is down to cuts in central government funding and increasing pressures.

For more visit www.bedfordtoday.co.uk.