Wandsworth Council approves fresh wave of cuts

Wandsworth Guardian: Council leader Ravi Govindia said cuts in Government funding had hit Wandsworth hard Council leader Ravi Govindia said cuts in Government funding had hit Wandsworth hard

Councillors rubber stamped plans to axe 28 members of staff during a full council meeting last night.

Posts are being removed from the Children's Services Department and the leisure and culture division in the Environment and Community Services Department.

Earlier this year it was announced Wandsworth Council plan to cut 44 posts from housing, while two departmental director positions are also being slashed.

It comes after the council announced it plans to slash £43m from its budget over the next 18 months.

Councillor Rex Osborn, leader of the Labour opposition, asked council  leader Ravi Govindia if the council are committed to keeping tax low.

Councillor Govindia (Conservative) said it is not "equitable" Kingston can raise council tax by more than £24 without a referendum, but the limit in Wandsworth is under £8.

He said: "Whilst there’s no doubt that this council is being hit hard with the level of cuts it faces in government funding, it’s important that we’re given the tools we need to deliver our services to the required standard.

"That’s why I’ve asked the Secretary of State to look at the restrictions on future council tax increases to ensure that low tax authorities like Wandsworth can continue to provide the level of service expected within the resources it has available."

Protecting pubs

During the meeting councillors debated on bringing in a policy to protect pubs in the borough, following the Save the Wheatsheaf campaign.

The council are considering granting The Wheatsheaf, in Upper Tooting Road, Tooting, an Article four direction, which gives it extra protection against development.

Several pubs across the borough have closed for development including The Trafalgar Arms, in Tooting High Street, and The Castle, in Battersea High Street.

A council document said: "This Council believes that Wandsworth’s public houses occupy an important social, cultural and economic role in the life of the Borough and its communities.

"However, it notes that in recent years, several pubs in the borough have come under threat and in some cases closed for business, subsequently to be demolished or changed in use. Such losses are of detriment to our community."

Councillors agreed to push ahead with developing a policy which would give increased protection for pubs during the planning process.

The policy would only allow development of a pub if it has been proved it would not be economically viable and there is no interest in using the venue as a community facility.

Development would also be allowed if it can be proved there are other community facilities in the area.

A final budget for next year, including details of the cuts, will be published in February, 2014.

 

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