Frontline services at risk as Flintshire council tries to save £12m

FLINTSHIRE Council chiefs have warned they need to save £12 million in the next financial year, as economic pressures tighten.

Chief exeutive Colin Everett told the authority’s executive committee it was ‘impossible to safeguard all frontline services’ at a meeting yesterday and said the council could not longer afford to run all of its assets.

And although the authority has already identified about £9 million of efficiencies, it still needs to save at least another £2 million to balance the books in 2011/12.

Mr Everett said: “We have been working extremely productively with the Welsh Assembly Government to protect public services as far as possible in a very difficult time.

“We cannot shield frontline services in their entirety – it’s impossible to make £12 million of savings and protect all of them.”

Services at risk include smaller libraries and school support services. The council’s social services department is also facing heavy cuts due to the loss of specific grants.

Consultations with trade unions are already underway over employees whose jobs could be at risk as a direct result of funding cuts and Cllr Helen Brown, executive member for housing, said she feared more people would become homeless.

She added: “I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face. We need to be aware of what could happen.”

Flintshire is set to get its final budget settlement for the next financial year from the Welsh Assembly on February 2 and officers say no cuts have yet been finalised.

Mr Everett said: “Many people value the services we are looking to change and we realise that.

“We need people to look at the bigger picture. Compared to some other councils in Wales and particularly England, our situation is much more manageable.”

After the meeting, Cllr Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of the opposition, criticised the council for including the building of a new headquarters in its future spending programme – at a cost of £20m.

He said: “It is scandalous that spending £20m on a new build at County Hall is even being talked about when the council is considering closing libraries and taking services away from our most vulnerable people.”

But Mr Everett said the project was ‘merely aspirational’ and there were no plans to move it forward at any time in the near future.