£47m bombshell

THE AXE is set to fall on council services in Wigan – to the tune of a staggering £47m this year.

Council chiefs last night agreed to an extra £27m in cuts, on top of the £20m already planned.

But they confirmed that council tax WILL NOT rise.

However, around 820 jobs will go over the next three years.

Other areas to be cut are:

Housing renovation grants axed, saving £2m;

Adult Services cut by £7.6m;

Business Support: £1.7m;

Children and Young People’s Services: £3.9m;

Chief Executive Services: £1.3m;

Environmental Services: £4.9m;

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust: £1.6m.

Measures the Metro has already made to slash spending have included a reduction of its capital (new build) scheme; phased redundancies; a reduction in administration and associated costs; proposed sell-off of council assets such as the civic halls, Metrolite Industries and some branch libraries.

Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith defended the budget as one that protected frontline services and the most vulnerable.He said: “We decided early in this process not to delay making difficult decisions, at the risk of merely storing them up for the year ahead. As a result, the council is in a better financial situation going forward than other authorities.”

Deputy Leader Coun Dave Molyneux warned : “There’s no getting away from it – these cuts are really going to hurt.”

Leader of the Opposition Independents Coun Gary Wilkes said: “We have identified some huge budget savings to the head of finance, and now we are awaiting answers. We don’t just mean chicken feed, these cuts save staff from redundancies and even our libraries from closure.”