Multi-million pound budget cuts were approved by Dudley Council as leaders warned of up to 40 compulsory redundancies
The Labour cabinet’s programme of £34million of savings over the next three years was given the go-ahead despite strong objections from opposition members.
Before the meeting protestors gathered outside Dudley Council House to campaign against the cuts.
Around 30 members of the Dudley Coalition Against the Cuts campaign group waved placards on the steps of the building urged the council to protest services for ‘vulnerable’ residents.
Speaking before the meeting last night, Jerry Langford, spokesman for Dudley Coalition Against the Cuts, said he was concerned about the impact on services particularly those for young people, the elderly and those with disabilities.
“Service that we have come to expect the council to provide like youth services that are the day to day activity of the council will disappear.
Introducing the budget proposals, finance boss Councillor Pete Lowe said the council faced ‘massive financial challenges’.
“Dudley is a prudent council and we know that we have to prepare for more pressures ahead,” he said.
Councillor Lowe said the council faced ‘significant cuts’ to its funding and demand for services was growing. He said the council would still face an additional funding shortfall of £23m before 2017.
He said the authority had ‘tried as far as possible to protect our services from those who need us the most”
and that it faced ‘massive financial challenges’, which would have an impact on jobs.
“We are working hard to minimise redundancies but, as the cuts deepen, this is harder and harder to do. The worst case is that we will need to find 40 full-time equivalent post savings this year from compulsory redundancies.”
The proposals, which include a council tax freeze for 2014/15, were passed with 42 councillors in favor and 25 against.
The council has accepted a £1.1m grant from the government to enable it to freeze its element of the council tax.
Rates for properties in the borough will remain the same with band D homes paying £1,272.67 next year.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the Conservative party on Dudley Council, said he supported the council tax freeze but not the budget.
“We have a Labour budget, no different to any other where they cut services and increase charges.”