Austerity axe set to cut deep in Burnley

Observatory comp
Burnley Town Hall, by Peter Seavers
Observatory comp Burnley Town Hall, by Peter Seavers

A huge raft of charges are set to hit Burnley residents in the pocket – including extra costs for funerals and historic new charges for entrance to Towneley Hall and garden waste collection – as Burnley Borough Council embarks on unprecedented cost-cutting measures.

For the first time in history, Burnley residents will be asked to pay to visit the town’s “jewel in the crown” Towneley Hall, and also face a hike in cemetery and crematoria fees.

Towneley Hall.

Towneley Hall.

The council is also set to slash grants to groups including Burnley Leisure, Citizens Advice, bowling clubs and parish councils.

The swingeing cuts come as the council attempts to grapple with the biggest government cuts in its history.

The government’s approach to town hall finances means that Burnley Council has already reduced its year-to-year spending by £11.6m. since 2010.

Burnley Council’s current annual revenue budget is £15.2m. Looking ahead to 2020, the council’s financial strategy sets out that, by then, the council faces a budget deficit of around £4m.

The reports now being debated set out savings totalling £2.166m. towards balancing the budgets over the next three years.

Council leader Coun. Mark Townsend said: “Proposals to cut and change the budget in these ways is not easy.

“Every choice we make will affect services to some degree but we are focused on ensuring that the pain is shared fairly between council tax payers, those on the lowest incomes and service users.

“The challenges we face are difficult. They result from government decisions on public sector spending which I would like to see changed and reversed.”

Residents can comment on the proposals by emailing communications@burnley.gov.uk.

• See Friday’s Burnley Express for a full breakdown of all the budget proposals.