Trafford Council: School crossing patrols face funding cut

Trafford Town Hall Image copyright david dixon
Image caption Trafford Council has proposed a 4% council tax rise as it tries to save £42m

Plans to axe funding for school crossing patrols and charge households £40 for collecting garden waste have been proposed by Trafford Council.

The only Conservative-run borough in Greater Manchester said it has to save £42m between 2017 and 2020.

It has also proposed a 4% council tax rise and transferring part of its adult social care to external suppliers.

The authority also plans to attract more businesses to the area and spend £24m on upgrading leisure centres.

Patrols 'essential'

Council leader Sean Anstee said funds for lollipop men and women could come "from schools or community groups".

Some local residents criticised the plans.

Tracey Miller, who has two children, said: "The schools aren't going to be able to find the money for this and it's going to fall squarely on the shoulders of parents, which we shouldn't have to do because I pay my council tax for that kind of thing."

Laura Fenton, 38, added: "It's an essential service... the roads are extremely busy. Putting children and young people's lives at risk - that's going to cost them a lot more in the long run."

Parking charges

If approved, the council's three-year budget strategy will see the first rise in Trafford's general council tax - excluding police and fire service precepts - for six years.

"Our council tax will remain the lowest in the North West despite the increase that is being levied," Mr Anstee said.

Charges for using council-owned car parks could also rise under the proposals.

A council spokesman said the local authority had reduced spending by £113m since 2010.

But "continuing austerity measures, rising demand on services and the changes to government funding" meant it had to save £22m in 2017-18, he added.

The authority said outsourcing its remaining adult social care provision - which involves caring for vulnerable people at home after hospital treatment - will save £950,000 a year.

Plans for an annual £40 charge for garden waste collection would put Trafford in line with many councils across England.

Councillors will make their final decision in February after a public consultation.

Analysis: Kevin Kitzpatrick, BBC Radio Manchester

Six years into austerity, the way local councils think about their budgets and spending is having to change.

Cutting services and being more efficient is no longer enough to make ends meet. Rising costs and shrinking budgets are an unsustainable combination.

The transfer of the last bit of adult social care provision will set alarm bells ringing for those who've railed against Greater Manchester's trailblazing deal, which saw the region take control of health and social care spending from central government in April.

Unions have argued that the only way to plug a £2 billion funding gap between now and 2020 is through more cuts and privatisation, a direction political leaders have always dismissed as speculation.

As a Conservative council working in partnership on this devolution project with the other nine Labour authorities, Trafford is the first to make that move, saying it will save nearly £1m annually.

While other councils consider the financial challenge they too face, it seems likely it won't be the last.

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