Walsall Council cuts: Hundreds of jobs axed, nine libraries closing and council tax rise on the way

Walsall Council will axe hundreds of jobs and nine libraries, while raising council tax by nearly five per cent, it emerged today.

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Walsall Council finance boss James Walsh with leader Councillor Sean Coughlan, and colleagues Councillor Lee Jeavons and Councillor Ian Shires

The council will also be relocating the local history centre into the town’s central library, while some school crossing patrols will be axed.

However the future of the New Art Gallery is set to be secured along with the leather museum and the maintenance of cricket pitches and bowling greens.

The new plans were announced at a press conference at Walsall Council House today after residents in the borough had their say on the original proposals in recent months.

Originally the council proposed to shut 15 of the borough’s 16 libraries, leaving just central library open which would also incorporate the leather museum and local history centre.

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Walsall Council say hundreds of jobs will go alongside a range of cuts at the authority

However, six of the 15 at risk libraries are now to remain open, with the leather museum also staying put.

Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall libraries have all been saved, while Streetly library will be community run.

A total of 420 jobs at the authority are to be axed through compulsory and voluntary redundancies.

However 139 of the posts to be cut are already vacant.

Council tax will be rising an extra per cent in the borough, with residents facing a 4.99 per cent hike on their bill.

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New Walsall Art Gallery - councillors have pledged to secure the future of the venue amid cutbacks

Originally the rise was to be 3.99 per cent but central government has allowed the council to raise their tax by an extra one per cent provided it is ring fenced for social care.

The council tax on a band D property in Walsall will now be £1,744.04, including precepts from West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service.

Other cuts include the loss of crossing patrols for category two schools that have been without a crossing patrol for at least six months.

These are all part of cost-cutting measures for the council as it looks to save £86 million by 2020.

However there was positive news for residents as the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration said it ‘had listened’ to people and amended or scrapped more than a quarter of its original proposals.

The future of the New Art Gallery is to be saved by the private sector, with the council looking at selling naming rights and advertising space - although the name of the gallery is to remain the same.

A deal with Wolverhampton University is also still on the table, with an announcement due on this and private sector investment imminently.

The council has also submitted a bid for £3.5m of funding from Arts Council England.

The Forest Arts Centre will not see any cuts in 2017/18 while the council will also to continue to maintain cricket pitches and bowling greens in the borough - something it originally proposed to scrap.

Plans to stop cleaning markets after they have closed has also been scrapped, while seven front line posts connected to street cleaning are being reinstated.

All these proposals will have to be approved at a full council meeting in February. However, providing all the Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors turn up, the coalition will have enough votes to push their plans through regardless of opposition from Conservative, UKIP and Independent councillors.

More detailed plans on cuts and savings are to be announced later this week.

For further details and reaction pick up a copy of tomorrow's Express & Star.

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Comments for: "Walsall Council cuts: Hundreds of jobs axed, nine libraries closing and council tax rise on the way "

Happy Baggie

Be even worse when the European funding is removed.

mpi

instead of increasing the rates and closing down things. why don't the top people take a pay cut like the workers. also why don't the councillors take a pay cut they never used to get payed.

Sharmwolf

People need to start refusing to pay council tax as a protest. Only way of getting something done in this terrible country. The continues practice of massive rises for less services cannot continue. I refused to pay last year and still waiting for the council to contact me. I have the money and have no problem paying but something has to give. Let's go to war with this government people

charlie.bear.5836

Freedom for Tooting.

black country born

the European funding is taxpayers money anyway

If they need to cut so many jobs let it be from the top down.

Sparkles mum

What hope have we the electorate got when you vote Labour or Lib Dem and we actually get Tory . All they are doing is carrying out central government policies and crying crocodile tears whilst doing it. Of course they are confined by the cuts in money to local authorities by central government but the current administration to their shame did not have to take control of the council. It's beyond understanding why they did beyond their own vanity and desire for power . I'll never vote Labour locally again I'm appalled at what they have done and are doing.

MAGISTER

Clearly what is required is a consultant to guide the councillors through this cuts process. I suggest a top-flight financial whiz like me could do the job on two days a week for a modest sum of say £200,000 per annum plus expenses. This seems to be the going rate which the current crop of councillors are willing to fork out for anyone calling themselves a consultant. I'm well-worth the money.

JJ

Pelsall Library only opened less than 4 years ago at a cost of £5.2m and now they are deciding to close it. What a complete waste of money then.

charlie.bear.5836

Damn government, opening libraries...................................

davethesteam

Could not agree more JJ

What a complete waste of our money if all the council can is to close it 4 years leter.

A much treasured resource being laid to waste as so many other council sites - the old folks home at Rushall - doing nothing whilst we have social care crisis. About time they did some thinking rather than paying themselves ex extra £3/4 million AND paying silly money to someone who will have no effect whatsover - what can anyone do in 12 months with an organisation like WMBC??

west brom baggieboy

one sided to the core,you lose your job ,we will close every thing down around you we put council tax up ,,then we squeeze another one per cent out of you thanks to the government ,then they bleat about the savings they have to make,but all they do is make the public pay for it,when they have saved all the 86m they say is needed will we ever see a council tax rebate ,then to boot we give ourselves a very nice pay rise and a big pat on the back telling each other how good we have done saving all this cash ,and the funny thing about all of this is THIS IS ALL THE COUNCILS MESS

gold and black wolves

if we all refused to pay what they going to do jail us all

we dont have to pay in jail

LordToffinghamOfTettenhall

If everyone refused to pay, it'd be the people reliant on front line services who would suffer most. These slithering abominations running the council would shrug their shoulders and play the victim.

middley

Imagine the cost of just them four in the picture, then times it by however there many of extortionate people that run councils ,,,,,,, Badly ! While Rome burns eh !

LordToffinghamOfTettenhall

Cutting back services, closing facilities is grim, incompetent work by these bloated, gravy-train riding, snout-in-the-trough, freeloading parasites...However, axing school crossing patrols is altogether different. Who ever came up with that idea, who ever agreed to implement it; these so-called people will roast in hell for what they are doing. If a child now dies on their way to school in walsall, these hideous council ghouls should face murder charges. The scum that they are.