Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham City Council budget meeting halted by protesters

Protesters
Image caption The protesters spread out across several entrances and exits to the Council House

Protesters have halted a meeting as Birmingham City Council discusses its annual budget.

Up to 1,000 jobs are likely to be cut by the authority over two years under a £102m savings plan.

The meeting was adjourned while protesters were cleared. One man had jumped over the public gallery into the main chamber, shouting "shame on you".

Earlier about 40 people demonstrated outside the council house against the proposed cuts.

During the meeting, protesters shouted from the public gallery before they were removed.

Cuts are set to include £1m at children's centres and about £2m savings from waste collection changes.

Prior to the meeting, some protesters attempted to block car park entrances but a council spokeswoman said access to the building had not been affected.

The protesters spread out across several entrances and exits to the Council House.

Godfrey Webster, of Birmingham Against The Cuts, said: "If these proposed cuts go ahead it will be devastating for Birmingham.

'Jaws of Doom'

"It will mean adult services cut, children's homes closed and lots of other things we can't afford to lose.

"These cuts are primarily the fault of the national government, but as the biggest local authority we expected Birmingham to lead by example and stand up to them."

Leader of Birmingham City Council Sir Albert Bore opened the meeting by saying the local authority faced "the largest cuts in local government funding any British government has attempted in the modern era".

"Of course we knew when Labour took office last year that there were tough times ahead. But the situation is in fact much worse than we first thought," he said.

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Media captionYouth worker Dale Jukes, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore on spending cuts

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has previously said all councils face savings targets, which he described as a "fair settlement to all parts of the country".

Sir Albert told the meeting that despite the "challenges", the authority would attempt to "protect key areas of service to the most vulnerable people in the city".

He said that included plans to speed up adoption and fostering and a new refuse collection service.

Mike Whitby, leader of the Conservative group put forward an amendment to the budget including reinstating funding for children's centres and youth services.

He said £3m could be saved next year by reducing sickness absences among council staff and that £1.5m could be saved in 2013-14 - and more in future years - by reviewing the procurement processes with private companies.

Liberal Democrat group leader Paul Tilsley said the "only good thing" about the budget was the proposed freeze in council tax.

He added: "Sir Albert's 'Jaws of Doom' have led to swingeing cuts that have been impacting across all communities."

The authority said it was looking at a total of £615m savings to be made by 2017.

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