Berkshire

West Berkshire Council announces cuts to toilets, theatre and tourism

Libraries and children's centres will not close but will see their funding reduced as West Berkshire Council looks to save £10m over the next two years.

School crossing patrols, Newbury's Tourist Information Centre and Duke of Edinburgh schemes will not be funded as part of the proposed budget.

The Conservative-run council said it had to deal with "significant cuts" to its funding.

But the Liberal Democrats said the planned cuts were "very swingeing".

The proposed savings would also see less money spent on public toilets and arts venues including the Watermill Theatre and the Corn Exchange.

Sunday parking charges would be introduced and the road maintenance budget cut.

The savings will come out of the council's total budget of £120m.

The council said £3m of all savings would come from front line services.

'Man who stole lollipop ladies'

Funding for vulnerable young adults would also be cut.

Leader of the council Gordon Lundie said: "We have the same number of children's centres and libraries as in 2010 and have increased our support in other critical areas like adult social care, school improvement and roads maintenance - all whilst keeping the budget balanced.

"Next year, the council has to reduce the amount it spends by £5m.

"The following year it will be at least the same and, if the government further re-allocates monies for education, it could mean £6m or more to be saved."

Mr Lundie said he had tried to protect services which people "value most", and pointed out he had frozen weekday car park charges.

Jeff Brooks, leader of the Lib Dems, said Mr Lundie was the "man who had stolen the lollipop ladies".

"These are very, very swingeing cuts," he said. "I'm wondering if he's putting up the worst case scenario. He will scare people.

"We should just hunker down and not expect any services at all."

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