Libraries and children's centres saved under alternative Walsall Council budget plans

Libraries will not be closed and some children's centres saved under alternative budget plans revealed in Walsall.

Libraries and children's centres saved under alternative Walsall Council budget plans

There would be fewer senior management posts and new town councils with their own cash pots formed, under rival proposals from the Liberal Democrats.

They will be put forward for consideration at Full Council against the ruling Labour authority plans, which include the closure of eight libraries and loss of 12 children centres.

The council needs to save £85 million over the next four years but the Lib Dems. who formed a coalition running the council with the Tories until last year, believe this can be achieved without such hard-hitting cuts.

Thousands of people gave already objected to moves to close Pheasey, Beechdale, Walsall Wood, Walsall South and Streetly libraries from July. With the three others in Rushall, New Invention and Blakenall to go afterwards.

Under the alternative budget, libraries would stay open and could then eventually become community hubs with The Lighthouse and Fibbersley Park children centres maintained as they are.

The launch of town councils at Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall means greater involvement from communities, giving them a bigger say in what people want in their area. There would still be the main Walsall Council.

There could also be the opportunity for council staff to run services as part of a management buyout or as not-for-profit community enterprise.

This may relate to services sich as refuse and green spaces as long as the level of service is not reduced while making savings.

Councillor Shires said they did not want to see library buildings shut. "When you look at the proposals some of they libraries that are shutting are serving deprived areas.

He added: "It is about giving kids a far better start in life. It is about trying to improve opportunities right from the cradle.

"We are looking at how we can reduce the impact off the reduction of money coming to local authorities."

"We are serious about our vision for Walsall and want to give the controlling group and others on the council the opportunity to consider our alternative approach."

The budget is due to be considered on February 26. Following a consultation period, Labour has already dropped some of its own proposals which included introducing parking fees in district centres.

Plans to cut funding to community associations have been axed. While steps to charge £28 for garden waste collections have been dropped after 70 per cent of people who took part in the consultation said they would not pay.

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