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Council consider radical shake up of services

By gail robinson, Town Reporter Tuesday 27th May 2014

A RADICAL shake up in how council services are provided across the region is being considered by Barnsley Council as it struggles to slash a further £28m from its budget.


The savage cuts, which will have to be implemented over the next two years, follow on from £63m of savings already implemented over the past four years.


The financial pressure is so harsh and so many cuts have already been made, that the council is considering pooling some its resources with neighbouring local authorities.


That could mean a county-wide refuse collection service or a South Yorkshire highways department.


It could lead to planning applications being considered within a regional department and/or legal services or children's services for all four local authorities provided by one single body.


Council leader, Sir Steve Houghton, says financial restrictions are now so severe that councillors are having to think about possibilities which used to be regarded as "the unthinkable".


"Nothing is 100 per cent protected any more and as we have warned, you cannot keep trimming all the fat off when there is no fat left," he said.


He confirmed Barnsley is commissioning a report with Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster councils to look at what money could be saved by single service provision across the region.


"We just can't keep cutting and cutting and we cannot rule anything out," he said.


"We have to look at every and any way there is to cope with these incredibly hard financial restraints. Single service provision across South Yorkshire is something we now have to consider."


Last year's cuts meant that for the first time there were reductions in spending on highways, neighbourhood pride and waste management.


Youths clubs closed, bin/recycling collections were altered, senior management was dramatically cut and the number of care managers and assessors was reduced.


It also saw business centres closed, cuts in supported living/community alarms spending, bereavement services fees were increased by six per cent and £1.5m was taken from the council's legal, finance and human resources services.