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Lack of consultation has robbed residents and community groups of opportunity to fight Labour cuts to council services

Labour’s decision not to share details of huge cuts to public services until the last possible minute has robbed residents and community groups of the chance to campaign for vital services to be saved, according to Green councillors.

Labour’s decision not to share details of huge cuts to public services until the last possible minute has robbed residents and community groups of the chance to campaign for vital services to be saved, according to Green councillors.

Despite previous administrations sharing a draft budget with residents, community groups, and opposition councillors each December, the current Labour leadership decided not to publish any details until towards the end of Wednesday this week – the last possible day it was permitted to do so.

That decision has left residents and community groups with less than two weeks to oppose the changes, which include the end of the Community Fund – an important source of financial support to local charities, and cuts to vital support for adults with learning disabilities.

A supported living scheme in Cromwell Road will close following a £327,000 funding cut, while the council will also end its own in-house community support service to save £182,000.

Planned cuts to services supporting young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are certain to prove equally controversial.

Labour plans to save:
• £364,000 by closing St Patricks High Support Rough Sleepers Hostel,
• £58,000 by decommissioning services currently provided by First Base Rough Sleepers Day Centre,
• £100,000 by axing funding for specialist young advice providing by the Youth Advice Centre.

Elsewhere, Ireland Lodge, which provides specialist support to people with dementia, will see its number of beds slashed as the council attempts to claw back £211,000; £80,000 is also being cut from support offered to young people at risk of exploitation, and almost 200 jobs at the council will go.

The budget papers also confirm the council’s unpopular decision to close Bright Start Nursery and move only part of its provision to the nearby Tarner Family Hub will save just £150,000.

Councillor Steve Davis, leader of the opposition and Green councillor, said: “The controlled demolition of public services under the Tory government has placed immense pressure on local services and it is clear the council was left having to make some incredibly difficult decisions.

“But early reading of these proposals suggests too many of the cuts planned by Labour focus on services supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community and far from protecting vital services, Labour is taking lumps out of them and hoping nobody will notice.

“Residents should be in no doubt – this Labour budget will leave many important services and organisations either closed or on the brink. The impact of these decisions will be devastating.

“The fact Labour chose to keep details secret until the last possible moment is unforgiveable. They could and should have engaged with residents and consulted community groups at every available opportunity to find the best way for the city to navigate the insufficient funding coming from the Conservative government.

“We will fight these cuts where we can. Labour needs to urgently listen to the concerns of local people and amend these plans to protect vital services.

“These cuts are terrible news for the city and its people. You simply cannot gut an organisation and expect it to keep functioning.”

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