No service safe in £3m. cuts at Burnley Council

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Radical changes are set to hit the Town Hall as council chiefs begin looking at how to deal with savage £3m. cuts.

Staff have been told no service is safe from the axe as plans for massive restructuring get under way.

Burnley Council’s Executive Committee will next week start considering the first steps of its “Change Programme” in an attempt to meet next year’s savings targets while delivering on main objectives. And difficult decisions are inevitable according to Coun. Mark Townsend, Executive member for resources and performance management.

“Big reductions in Government funding to Burnley Council means there will be a funding gap of £3m. – which is 19% of our current budget – by 2016/17,” said Coun. Townsend.

“The council is expecting austerity measures to continue for the foreseeable future, and difficult choices are inevitable.

“The Executive doesn’t think these Government reductions are fair and we will continue to lobby for a better funding deal for council services in Burnley and Lancashire.

“At the same time, we have to plan ahead responsibly and change things in good time so we carry on delivering services for people and businesses, and acting in line with our commitment and ambition for the borough.”

All council staff members have been briefed on the “Change Programme”. The proposals would mean Burnley Council having a new business model and staff have been told this would be shaped by political decisions about whether the council should stop a service altogether, or continue having responsibility for the service, albeit in a reduced capacity.

For the services the council continues, further consideration would be given as to whether the service should either be directly provided, or delivered through an alternative vehicle such as a local shared service arrangement or through a procured strategic partner.

Examples of this already happening include the launching of Burnley Leisure as a charity earlier this month, transferring housing stock and bringing in the private sector to provide waste collection and street cleaning services.

Helen Seechurn, the council’s director of resources, said: “The council is committed to achieving its strategic objectives. We want to continue building on our successes, such as our contribution to Burnley being named the Most Enterprising Area in the UK.

“To respond to the financial challenges and remain focused on our priorities, we must transform the way we work.

“We cannot do this on our own, but by working with strategic partners who provide capacity and inward investment, we can bring about service efficiencies at the same time as working for our goals.

“As this Change Programme develops and leads to decisions by Executive and full council meetings, staff members will be regularly briefed and consulted, and there will be key opportunities for residents and service users to have their say on any significant changes to services which we are considering.”