Bristol's mayor says budget cuts will have a 'real impact'
Bristol's elected mayor has unveiled three years' worth of public service cuts he says will have a "real impact".
George Ferguson's plans include the closure of public toilets in the city, slashing leisure facility subsidies and cutting funding to children's centres by £1.5m.
Mr Ferguson also proposes to increase council tax by 2% annually for the next three years.
He hopes the planned budget cuts will help save about £90m by 2017.
He also said job cuts revealed last week - which could affect up to 1,000 employees including part-timers - will now take place within months.
"The council cannot afford to keep providing the same level of service with so much less in the way of funds at its disposal," he said.
Be in no doubt: the mayor's three-year programme of cuts will provoke a storm of protest.
He knows it - briefing journalists, he repeatedly used adjectives like "tough" and "bold".
But he and his cross-party cabinet are also convinced this is a nettle that must be grasped.
Central government funding for councils is going to keep going down.
Taking tough decisions now makes financial and electoral sense for a mayor aiming for re-election in 2016.
But they will also provide ammunition for critics in the council chamber - where this controversial budget has to get approval.
"There will be some inescapable pain in terms of loss of public jobs and some services, which I deeply regret."
Mr Ferguson said no final decisions on planned budget cuts had been taken, and he was "keen to listen" to public feedback on his proposals.'Absolutely shocking'
"I think we are behind the curve - we should have made these cuts earlier," Mr Ferguson said.
"It's absolutely shocking there's so much slack in the system but I'm absolutely determined that we minimise the amount of the cuts to the services themselves.
"You will see that I will be taking as much out as efficiently as I can in order to minimise those real cuts.
"But those real cuts will have impact."
The list of cuts unveiled by Mayor Ferguson include:
- A plan to reduce the subsidy for six leisure facilities in the city
- £1.5m cuts to children centres across three years
- A 33% reduction in subsidies to bus operators running under-used routes
- A reduction in warden services in extra care housing for older people
- The closure of 22 of the 23 public toilets across the city
- A reduction to the level of enforcement of illegal dumping of commercial waste
- Cease funding for a specialist 'floating' support service for older people
The authority also plans to reduce the number of buildings it operates from and could close up to 27 of 35.
Deputy mayor Geoff Gollop admitted there "would be some pain".
"But actually that pain is better confronted in one go," he said.'Serious threat'
"What we are looking to do now is to get to a stage where we confront the pain and then be able to give a degree of certainty to our employees who have been incredibly loyal and very very tolerant of a very very difficult process."
Councillor Tim Kent, the Liberal Democrat group leader said the planned cuts will see some frontline services "under serious threat".
A public consultation on Mr Ferguson's proposals will close on 30 December and his final budget will need to be debated and approved by full council on 18 February.
Full details of the planned budget cuts can be found the Bristol City Council website.
Last month 8,000 people who work for Bristol City Council were told to brace themselves for deeper cuts than expected.