Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke-on-Trent council approves £24m budget cuts

Budget cuts of £24m have been approved by Stoke-on-Trent City Council for 2012-13.

The Labour-run authority said about 300 jobs would be lost in the next year.

Care homes for the elderly and support for schools are among the services which will also be affected, while council tax is set to rise by 3.49%.

Leader of the council Mohammed Purvez said the most vulnerable would be protected but it was a "difficult decision" for "difficult times".

He added that almost £5m of the savings would be used to stimulate economic growth in the city as part of its "mandate for change".

A group of eight independent and Conservative councillors voted against the budget and criticised the Labour leadership for sacrificing services to spend money on attracting businesses to the area.

Care homes

Community centres, as well as tourist attractions such as Ford Green Hall and Etruria Industrial Museum will be transferred to charitable trusts, or closed.

The Wedgwood College and Conference Centre will also close, as well as care homes The Meadows in Berry Hill and St Michael's in Chell.

On Monday, the council backed down on immediate plans to close Marrow House care home and said it would remain open for current residents.

People living in the city will also see cuts to subsidies for swimming lessons and clubs for children, as well as school transport for the over 16s.

The council also said it would end free bus travel for over 65s before 09:30 GMT.

The authority said about £9m of the savings were due to targets set under the government's 2010 Spending Review.

It added that a further £10m was due to "unavoidable costs" such as debts, and increases in overheads.

The authority rejected a proposal by independent councillor Dave Conway to cut the pay of staff earning more than £50,000 a year by 5%.

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