Jobs will go, a museum will close and the budget for a struggling children’s services department will be slashed under a package of £19 million council cuts.
Walsall Council has drawn up the savings, which include shutting Walsall Museum in Lichfield Street, amid shrinking government grants.
Taxpayers will be asked whether they want to protect services or see their council tax bills rise as a huge consultation over the proposals is launched.
Children’s services will be hit hard, with £5m being axed from its budget next year. The department came under fire last year when Ofsted judged safeguarding services and its capacity to improve as inadequate, although it has since improved to adequate.
Nearly £6m will be cut from the social care bill as the council aims to save £100m over the next five years.
Included in the list of proposals in the council’s draft budget are plans to close Walsall Museum in Lichfield Street, saving £70,000. However, bosses say the cuts could be less severe if people living in the town agree to an increase in their council tax bills. The council has now launched a huge consultation to get taxpayers’ views.
Among the options on the table are a two per cent rise, generating £1.7m, or a four per cent rise, raising £3.4m. Average weekly bills would go up by 60p or £1.20 respectively. The council is proposing to save nearly £1m by ‘re-structuring’ its 18 children’s centres – but expects all to remain open. The authority is refusing to say how many jobs will go at this stage.
The proposals go before Walsall Council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday. It comes as Wolverhampton City Council was set to unveil its latest round of cuts, amid warnings it will go bankrupt by 2015 if it does not save £98m. The savings needed are £9m worse than previously thought.