Fears for libraries, children's centres and leisure centres as council cuts bite deeper

St Helens Star: 'Running on fumes': Barrie Grunewald fears the impact further budget cuts are going to have on services 'Running on fumes': Barrie Grunewald fears the impact further budget cuts are going to have on services

LIBRARIES, leisure centres and children’s centres are all believed to be at risk in a next round of cuts which are in response to a further £25 million reduction in council funding.

Fears for the services emerged as council leader Barrie Grunewald said the council is “running on fumes” following the news of more budget cuts over the next two years.

The funding shortfalls mean St Helens Council is also proposing a two per cent rise in council tax for 2014/15. Rates had been frozen last year.

Town hall officers are also studying ways of bringing more revenue into the council coffers, and it is understood introducing that one-off charges for services such as green bin waste collections are among the options being explored.

St Helens Council says that between 2010 and 2016 the reduction in grants will total 53 per cent, amounting to £65 million.

In the face of swingeing cuts imposed by central Government, the council says it is working to balance the books to continue to provide vital local services.

It is expected to lead to a number of unpalatable options being considered.

Libraries, many of which saw their hours cut last year to save money, are believed to be at risk.

Last year saw Sutton swimming pool closed and further leisure services are likely to be examined. A review of the borough’s network of children’s centres is also taking place.

The message will inevitably lead to renewed fears for jobs. Since the cuts began three years ago 1,300 jobs have gone and vacancies are going unfilled because of cash shortages.

Barrie Grunewald said: “The light at the end of the tunnel just gets further away. The latest grant settlement has piled on the misery for St Helens.

“The 2014 figures include a general grant reduction of £10.8 million, which equates to a 13 per cent cut.

“However the 2015/16 is even worse, with cuts of a further £14.1 million, meaning that we are looking at an additional 20 per cent reduction.

“The impact on council services will be significant but, as always, we will be ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our community are shielded from the worst effects of the cuts.”

The way the council delivers services and the way it buys in services have all come under the microscope as it seeks to maximise value for money.

Partnerships agreements with neighbouring councils to share administrative roles are also being looked at.

A consultation process is under way with residents and stakeholders on the council’s budget proposals, with people able to make their views known through sthelens.gov.uk or picking up a special budget questionnaire from their local library.

Comments (20)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:32am Fri 17 Jan 14

SausageHogger says...

Labours legacy is still hitting us hard. And it is us, the working class and below who they are meant to fight for who suffer the most.
Labours legacy is still hitting us hard. And it is us, the working class and below who they are meant to fight for who suffer the most. SausageHogger
  • Score: 5

8:33am Fri 17 Jan 14

barrie timpson says...

What he means by this is Rainhill library.

25 million in cuts> no problem - take it out of the 89 million in the bank.

A question for you Barrie , Labour have said that if they regain power they will stick to the coalitions spending plans for 15/16 , that will mean the same cuts - so will you be moaning groaning and gurning all over the star then - or will that be OK?

....and can you enlighten us to where Labour would have made cuts , because I haven't heard one yet?
What he means by this is Rainhill library. 25 million in cuts> no problem - take it out of the 89 million in the bank. A question for you Barrie , Labour have said that if they regain power they will stick to the coalitions spending plans for 15/16 , that will mean the same cuts - so will you be moaning groaning and gurning all over the star then - or will that be OK? ....and can you enlighten us to where Labour would have made cuts , because I haven't heard one yet? barrie timpson
  • Score: 6

11:42am Fri 17 Jan 14

keepitreel says...

this will not bother us in SUTTON after spending hundreds of thousands on PARR baths and gym building a bigger car park etc they shut our baths and gym becuse they couldnt afford it then told us to us the one in PARR,same goes for the QUEENS LEISURE centre millions spent on it at the detriment to other centres in the town and if my information is correct this is soon to be run by a private company who will pay a nominal rent.
this will not bother us in SUTTON after spending hundreds of thousands on PARR baths and gym building a bigger car park etc they shut our baths and gym becuse they couldnt afford it then told us to us the one in PARR,same goes for the QUEENS LEISURE centre millions spent on it at the detriment to other centres in the town and if my information is correct this is soon to be run by a private company who will pay a nominal rent. keepitreel
  • Score: 5

2:37pm Fri 17 Jan 14

Sankey says...

How can barrie say the council is running on fumes when they have £90m sitting in the bank account? It also seems millions of pounds can be found overnight when needed for political posturing but public services (the very purpose of a council) bears the brunt every time.
How can barrie say the council is running on fumes when they have £90m sitting in the bank account? It also seems millions of pounds can be found overnight when needed for political posturing but public services (the very purpose of a council) bears the brunt every time. Sankey
  • Score: 4

5:06pm Fri 17 Jan 14

barrie timpson says...

So here it is in black and white - St Helens Labour would rather see public services shut than dip into whats in the bank.
So here it is in black and white - St Helens Labour would rather see public services shut than dip into whats in the bank. barrie timpson
  • Score: 6

5:25pm Fri 17 Jan 14

Les Teeling says...

i have applied for some more info through the Freedom of Information
1/ Where is this surplus of money invested
2/ How much does this investment earn in Interest per annum
3/ Given the fact that the Council have by their own admission had a 42% reduction in revenue since 2010 How have you managed to maintain a 89million pound surplus
i have applied for some more info through the Freedom of Information 1/ Where is this surplus of money invested 2/ How much does this investment earn in Interest per annum 3/ Given the fact that the Council have by their own admission had a 42% reduction in revenue since 2010 How have you managed to maintain a 89million pound surplus Les Teeling
  • Score: 9

6:25pm Fri 17 Jan 14

barrie timpson says...

Excellent work Les , keep going. Let's show these cowboys for what they really are.
Excellent work Les , keep going. Let's show these cowboys for what they really are. barrie timpson
  • Score: 2

12:13pm Sat 18 Jan 14

Sankey says...

Good work les

And that £90m is not the councils nest egg it's our money for which we have overpaid in the past. Revenues in the past have substantially exceeded outgoings that money should be returned to us in services.
Good work les And that £90m is not the councils nest egg it's our money for which we have overpaid in the past. Revenues in the past have substantially exceeded outgoings that money should be returned to us in services. Sankey
  • Score: 5

9:50pm Sun 19 Jan 14

quizling says...

and yet they can find £6 million to buy land in newton, as i said in another post i cannot trust grunewald, he has received a caution in the past for signing a fraudulent expenses claim for some politician
and yet they can find £6 million to buy land in newton, as i said in another post i cannot trust grunewald, he has received a caution in the past for signing a fraudulent expenses claim for some politician quizling
  • Score: 6

8:27am Tue 21 Jan 14

Bill Bradbury says...

Sankey et al we have had this argument before, every year we have the budget cuts on the so called money in the bank. We even looked at it, as I have, and it exists. Last year you produced some figures.

However it is there by LAW as Councils as other large businesses and Banks etc.have to have them I think it is a % of budget. Therefore if it could be spent I presume it would. ALL Councils have this money in the bank or where-ever. You may recall the Icelandic crash where many Councils had invested this money.

These are cuts made by central Government and you don't have to be an expert in economics or even household budgets that, when money is short, you have to reduce spending which judging by past comments over the years (before it raises its head again so I will first) will be achieved by sacking more Council workers, Officers of the authority, cutting the Chief Executive's pay and make Cllrs. work on a voluntary basis as did our rich forebears of the past by cutting allowances or getting rid altogether. No doubt this will get a great hooray from some but even by doing all this, if we could, (employment contracts etc etc.) the "savings" would be minimal put alongside of the cuts and increases due to inflation.

Sorry I have rained on all your parade but I thought I would just redress the balance of the debate as you would expect. I believe all the decisions will be made this saturday so next week's local press may make interesting reading. Tin Hats all round for the council??!!
Sankey et al we have had this argument before, every year we have the budget cuts on the so called money in the bank. We even looked at it, as I have, and it exists. Last year you produced some figures. However it is there by LAW as Councils as other large businesses and Banks etc.have to have them I think it is a % of budget. Therefore if it could be spent I presume it would. ALL Councils have this money in the bank or where-ever. You may recall the Icelandic crash where many Councils had invested this money. These are cuts made by central Government and you don't have to be an expert in economics or even household budgets that, when money is short, you have to reduce spending which judging by past comments over the years (before it raises its head again so I will first) will be achieved by sacking more Council workers, Officers of the authority, cutting the Chief Executive's pay and make Cllrs. work on a voluntary basis as did our rich forebears of the past by cutting allowances or getting rid altogether. No doubt this will get a great hooray from some but even by doing all this, if we could, (employment contracts etc etc.) the "savings" would be minimal put alongside of the cuts and increases due to inflation. Sorry I have rained on all your parade but I thought I would just redress the balance of the debate as you would expect. I believe all the decisions will be made this saturday so next week's local press may make interesting reading. Tin Hats all round for the council??!! Bill Bradbury
  • Score: -6

9:14am Tue 21 Jan 14

barrie timpson says...

So what the hell is the money there for Bill? If it's for no use at all - then what's the point in having it?
Frankly Bill I just don't buy that for one minute. That's our money not theirs , if saving public services isn't a rainy day then what is??

I'll tell you what I think , I think the modus operandi , is to not use the money so these cuts have the worst possible effect - so people will vote Labour next time , when in reality EXACTLY the same cuts would be undertaken by a Labour government. We know this already as Labour have stated CATEGORICALLY that if they win the next election they will stick to the coalitions spending plans for the next 2 years. And I am STILL STILL STILL WAITING , for Labour to tell us where they would have made one cut.
So what the hell is the money there for Bill? If it's for no use at all - then what's the point in having it? Frankly Bill I just don't buy that for one minute. That's our money not theirs , if saving public services isn't a rainy day then what is?? I'll tell you what I think , I think the modus operandi , is to not use the money so these cuts have the worst possible effect - so people will vote Labour next time , when in reality EXACTLY the same cuts would be undertaken by a Labour government. We know this already as Labour have stated CATEGORICALLY that if they win the next election they will stick to the coalitions spending plans for the next 2 years. And I am STILL STILL STILL WAITING , for Labour to tell us where they would have made one cut. barrie timpson
  • Score: 6

9:46am Tue 21 Jan 14

barrie timpson says...

....and frankly , I find it laughable that out of 89 million pounds banked and whatever interest that accrues , and 6 million to suddenly find to invest , that a paltry 100k (150k less than expenses taken out by councilors) cannot be found to keep Sutton pool open.

I think it's time for a vote of no confidence in this bunch.
....and frankly , I find it laughable that out of 89 million pounds banked and whatever interest that accrues , and 6 million to suddenly find to invest , that a paltry 100k (150k less than expenses taken out by councilors) cannot be found to keep Sutton pool open. I think it's time for a vote of no confidence in this bunch. barrie timpson
  • Score: 4

9:48am Tue 21 Jan 14

keepitreel says...

BILL i have read your post and have been left wondering,did ERIC PICKLES who is in charge of all local authorities not say in a statement in parliament a few weeks ago that councils are sitting on billions of pounds in the bank and SHOULD be using this money to help the most vulnerable,is the money our council has stashed away being used to its best advantage,is it generating the best returns or is it in a post office account or stuffed under the mayors mattress.I for one would like to see this money used to bring jobs to the town ,not for buying bits of land at 5 times the price they sold it for 10 years ago.
BILL i have read your post and have been left wondering,did ERIC PICKLES who is in charge of all local authorities not say in a statement in parliament a few weeks ago that councils are sitting on billions of pounds in the bank and SHOULD be using this money to help the most vulnerable,is the money our council has stashed away being used to its best advantage,is it generating the best returns or is it in a post office account or stuffed under the mayors mattress.I for one would like to see this money used to bring jobs to the town ,not for buying bits of land at 5 times the price they sold it for 10 years ago. keepitreel
  • Score: 5

10:01am Tue 21 Jan 14

barrie timpson says...

What is the money for Bill?
What is the money for Bill? barrie timpson
  • Score: 1

10:38am Tue 21 Jan 14

Sankey says...

Bill while its true councils have to keep legal reserves St. Helens is massively excessive for example warrington council (a far bigger authority) carries far less reserves than St. Helens.

So I am afraid it's you who have the flawed arguments trying to shield your cronies on labour St. Helens.

They routinely lie to St. Helens people and are conning us consistently. There is absolutely no need for a small council like St. Helens to hold £90m.

They ch cut services but suddenly find £ 6m to buy land to allow barrie to posture how he is bringing jobs before the elections council money should not be spent on none sense like that especially with services being cut left right and centre and council tax being increased
Bill while its true councils have to keep legal reserves St. Helens is massively excessive for example warrington council (a far bigger authority) carries far less reserves than St. Helens. So I am afraid it's you who have the flawed arguments trying to shield your cronies on labour St. Helens. They routinely lie to St. Helens people and are conning us consistently. There is absolutely no need for a small council like St. Helens to hold £90m. They ch cut services but suddenly find £ 6m to buy land to allow barrie to posture how he is bringing jobs before the elections council money should not be spent on none sense like that especially with services being cut left right and centre and council tax being increased Sankey
  • Score: 3

4:18pm Tue 21 Jan 14

voyager1 says...

The Council could, this year, have accepted money from the Government equivalent to a 1% rise in council tax, so still increasing their revenue, but no St Helens Council would rather make its residents pay a 2% rise so it can have a further 1% increase in its revenue - no consideration goes to people like me who struggle to pay council tax but are not entitled to any kind of council tax benefit.
The Council could, this year, have accepted money from the Government equivalent to a 1% rise in council tax, so still increasing their revenue, but no St Helens Council would rather make its residents pay a 2% rise so it can have a further 1% increase in its revenue - no consideration goes to people like me who struggle to pay council tax but are not entitled to any kind of council tax benefit. voyager1
  • Score: 4

4:43pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Sankey says...

They want to inflict the maximum hardship on residents in order to blame the government for political purposes while enriching themselves by allocating lucrative political positions in a town that would vote for a chimp if it had a labour rosette on it. These people are taking personal advantage of this situation and to make matters worse they are sitting on ludicrous amounts of cash except when it comes to using money to political posture then £6m can be found from thin air. One day.....one day the people of St. Helens will wake up they may have the labour badge on but these people are as far away removed from the original principles of the Labour Party as its possible to be.
They want to inflict the maximum hardship on residents in order to blame the government for political purposes while enriching themselves by allocating lucrative political positions in a town that would vote for a chimp if it had a labour rosette on it. These people are taking personal advantage of this situation and to make matters worse they are sitting on ludicrous amounts of cash except when it comes to using money to political posture then £6m can be found from thin air. One day.....one day the people of St. Helens will wake up they may have the labour badge on but these people are as far away removed from the original principles of the Labour Party as its possible to be. Sankey
  • Score: 4

11:24pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Bill Bradbury says...

Dear All, I note your points on the reserves but ignore the sterile points over the fact we have a Labour Council. Its called democracy which to some is getting a Council of their vote preference. Made the point many times there are just as many "sterile" Tory Councils down South who also make cuts with a vengeance and suffer Government cuts ( and similar letters to their locals).

It is a pity someone who really knows the answer to why £90m and if that is correct whether it can be used cannot tell us the facts. Perhaps those questions will be answered (don't hold your breath) when the 2% rise is announced if that is what is decided upon. I will try to find out but as in all finance once "savings" are spent, if that is what you regard them to be, from where do you raid the next "rainy day" budget even if there is one-and there is not.
Sorry its YOUR Government cuts and the "Deniers" can make all sorts of excuses and reasons they wish to write about. Of course it's all Brown's fault and the last Labour Government if that makes you happy. The "Blame" culture is alive and kicking by some. I blame the Whigs and the rich Mill and land-owners.
Dear All, I note your points on the reserves but ignore the sterile points over the fact we have a Labour Council. Its called democracy which to some is getting a Council of their vote preference. Made the point many times there are just as many "sterile" Tory Councils down South who also make cuts with a vengeance and suffer Government cuts ( and similar letters to their locals). It is a pity someone who really knows the answer to why £90m and if that is correct whether it can be used cannot tell us the facts. Perhaps those questions will be answered (don't hold your breath) when the 2% rise is announced if that is what is decided upon. I will try to find out but as in all finance once "savings" are spent, if that is what you regard them to be, from where do you raid the next "rainy day" budget even if there is one-and there is not. Sorry its YOUR Government cuts and the "Deniers" can make all sorts of excuses and reasons they wish to write about. Of course it's all Brown's fault and the last Labour Government if that makes you happy. The "Blame" culture is alive and kicking by some. I blame the Whigs and the rich Mill and land-owners. Bill Bradbury
  • Score: -3

1:45pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Sankey says...

Bill so you don't think the government should make any cuts ? Then what do we do ? Continue to print and borrow money ? The Labour Party would also make cuts if it were in power except they are too cowardly to explain what and where.

If there are to be cuts then surely councils who are sitting on a £13 billion cash pile should be first in line ?

Or do you think the government should shower them with cash ?
Bill so you don't think the government should make any cuts ? Then what do we do ? Continue to print and borrow money ? The Labour Party would also make cuts if it were in power except they are too cowardly to explain what and where. If there are to be cuts then surely councils who are sitting on a £13 billion cash pile should be first in line ? Or do you think the government should shower them with cash ? Sankey
  • Score: 2

6:44pm Wed 22 Jan 14

keepitreel says...

BILL when you have a word about the £90m could you ask were it is being invested,if it is helping the LABOUR party or is the interest being made coming back to us the people of the town or is it just being reinvested,i and many others would like to know what is happening to our money.As for you constant referrals to TORY councils down south is it not a fact that this area gets almost 3 times the government money per head of population than any southern council run by the TORY party,the council gets given the money and they decide what to spend it on if thats £6m on a derelict site instead of sports centres and library's then that sums them up.
BILL when you have a word about the £90m could you ask were it is being invested,if it is helping the LABOUR party or is the interest being made coming back to us the people of the town or is it just being reinvested,i and many others would like to know what is happening to our money.As for you constant referrals to TORY councils down south is it not a fact that this area gets almost 3 times the government money per head of population than any southern council run by the TORY party,the council gets given the money and they decide what to spend it on if thats £6m on a derelict site instead of sports centres and library's then that sums them up. keepitreel
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree