Public toilets, mobile library, pest control all hit in B&NES budget plans

The number of public toilets in Bath and North East Somerset will be more than halved, the area’s mobile library service will be cut and pest control services axed in the Lib Dem-run authority’s budget proposals for next year.

The cuts to Council services will see the number of public toilets in the area reduced from the current 29 to just 14, with a less frequent mobile library service and the Council’s pest control service ended.  In addition, Trading Standards and food safety monitoring will be reduced to a minimum, whilst libraries will make increasing use of volunteers rather than permanent staff.

The latest budget proposals come on top of cuts made last year to drain and gulley clearing, with no additional funding for road improvements planned above the amount provided by Government grant.

The authority’s opposition Conservative councillors have warned that poor financial planning is leaving the council more vulnerable to service cuts than it otherwise could have been, pointing to the fact that last year the Council failed to produce a detailed three-year financial strategy and slowed down on the pace of organisational change.

“It’s early days in the Council’s budget setting process, which goes on until next February, but already we are seeing some major cuts planned to key services.

“Obviously all councils are having to make financial savings and look hard at what services they can afford to deliver.  But poor financial planning from the Lib Dems here in B&NES is leaving the Council more vulnerable to cuts than it needs to be.  Conservatives warned last year that the lack of a proper three-year financial plan meant the Council would end up slicing services arbitrarily rather than looking ahead and mitigating the impact of budget cuts.

“This year the Council is making pretty optimistic long-term inflation assumptions, particularly in social care, and if these turn out to be wrong then it is storing up further trouble for future years as the Council will have little financial slack to accommodate further budget savings.”