Hi I normally only do 1 blog a week. But this week I am also including a Special Edition. Now normally special editions are all about good and nice things. Sadly this special edition blog isn’t. I said in last weeks blog that I would not use my blog to rant much about politics. This week however a major announcement about cuts in my town have been announced and I am outraged at them. So instead of including the topic in my usual sunday blog I am going to rant about it now.
This week my local council has proposed the following cuts to public services in the town.
- Axe subsidies to the town’s Civic Theatre and Arts Centre, a move that could force them to close, but which would save about £1.7m a year;
● Cut the town’s library services by a quarter;
● Cut funding for subsidised bus routes by £100,000;
● Scrap the popular free bonfire night and fireworks spectacular;
● Close four bowling greens;
● Reduce floral displays and grounds maintenance;
● Review eligibility criteria for elderly people who need non-residential support and force more people to pay for day care centres and training places to save £1m;
● Raise car parking charges and withdraw special offers;
● Restructure the council around three major departments – people, place and resources – and streamline the senior management structure, saving about £1m. It will mean the loss of two management posts and six assistant directors;
● Review the level of education support it provides to schools and focus only on the most vulnerable and needy children.
No aspect of the council has gone untouched – even the grass will be cut less often – in a review that will result in more than 400 job losses among the council’s 2,780 workers.
These are really savage cuts especially in such a small town. Yes I agree some of these things have to be cut as they are not essential. But the things I disagree with are the following.
1) Axing subsidies to the town’s Civic Theatre and Arts Centre, a move that could force them to close, but which would save about £1.7m a year;
The civic theatre has been in Darlington since 1907. For over 100 years it has been the centre of the towns cultural heritage. Many big performers regard the theatre as one of the best in country. Despite this the theatre could face closure along with the Arts Centre. Now I know some people will say well I don’t use the theatre so why should I pay for it. Well it is part of the towns heritage and that has to be preserved. Also the theatre adds a lot to the local community. The theatre has many local restaurants near it and they all rely upon the theatre goers visiting. If the theatre closed then these restaurants would also close adding to the job losses n the town. Also the theatre supports the local operatic society. This is a great organisation that not only allows local people to get into theatre but they also raise lots of money that they give to many local charities. If the theatre closes this could also mean the Operatic society also closes which would hit the many charities that will rely upon such generous donations. Another thing that supports both the theatre and the arts centre is that it is a well known fact that during hard times theatre, art galleries, museums, cinemas all have increased visitor numbers. they help people escape briefly from the hardship of everday lives. If the council goes ahead with the cuts to these services. This will have a huge effect on all the people of this town. The council hopes that a private investor comes along and I hope they do. Because it cannot be allowed to have such important things in the town close.
2) Cutting the town’s library services by a quarter
As I work in libraries although not in Darlington I am horrified at such cuts. However I am not surprised. Libraries are always hit first during cuts so I knew something would be happen. Although no details of what exactly will happen I would imagine (and this is only my thoughts and hopefully they are wrong) that all smaller parts of the library will go which would possibly mean closure of Cockerton Library and even the mobile library. It might even mean reduced opening hours. I was even horrified to hear that the council looked into the legal side of it to see if they were legally obligated to provide a library. It is not about whether its a legal right its a moral right to have a library. Libraries support people in many ways. They are not just about borrowing books they run classes so people can learn new skills such as computer literacy, family history, learning a new language. They also have access to the internet so people who don’t have access at home can go online. This is very important especially when people are looking for jobs as you usually have to apply for jobs online now. If services like this go then people who are looking for work will struggle which will have a huge effect on the town.
3)Reviewing the non-residential support for elderly people and force more people to pay for day care centres and training places to save £1m;
The government said that the cuts in this country should not effect the most vulnerable. However this is what this proposal is doing. People rely on help. They don’t want to go into residential care they want to live as normal a life as possible. My removing this funding people will struggle. The visits get from helpers not only allows them to get things such as shopping and cleaning done but it offers the emotional support to them. These helpers are often the only people some elderly people see. If they can’t afford to have these services then they will be left all alone. OK you may say they should go into residential care. But theses services are already struggling and many have already closed. Once again I don’t see the private sector rushing to help
4)● Cut funding for subsidised bus routes by £100,000
This has a big impact on many people especially if you go to school on a subsidised bus pass. Travelling on a bus will go up dramatically and if you need a bus to go to school as some schools in the town are on the outskirts then it will cost families a lot of money. This comes at a time when everyday costs are already going up and this could stop families sending their children to a top school because the can’t afford to send them by public transport. Also by doing this you are deterring people from using public transport at a time when more investment should be being made in public transport.
What gets me angry is that other services such as the golf club have been spared over such important services. Also I think that the local councillors need to reduce the amount they get paid. If this money could help save even a few jobs then that is something. After all you are on the local council to make a difference to lives in the town.
So there you go these are some of my thoughts on this announcement. If there is anybody out there who can invest in these services then please help. If these cuts go ahead there will still be even further cuts to come. Darlington does not have the ability to survive such drastic cuts and if these services go then there is nothing for young people in the town. They will have no reason to say and will leave . The private sector in Darlington is very small and the business’ that are already there have already announced massive job losses. It looks like Cameron and Clegg are doing everything to ruin this region. I hope this is not the case.