Brent Council to make �100million worth of cuts

Libaries, nursery places and free school meals could be hardest hit casualties

RESIDENTS face dipping deeper into their pockets as council chiefs make sweeping cuts to save �100miliion over the next four years.

Town hall bosses will leave no stone unturned as they struggle to balance their books following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review which slashed 28 per cent of their funding.

The true depth of the cuts will not be known until December but council chiefs have earmarked which services they can hacked away at or even axed altogether.

One of the casualties of the squeeze is the borough’s streets which face being riddled with cracked pavements and potholes as the council plugs the hole left by their streetcare being cut by 28 per cent, while residents face perilous journeys in the snow as the council’s shaves its grit supply.

Both old and young will also suffer with 43,000 pensioners in the borough facing stringent mean-testing for their Freedom Pass that allows them to travel on the Tube and buses for free, and pre-school children scrambling for a shortage nursery place in the borough’s Sure-Start centres.

Despite three of the centres being based in Stonebridge, one of the most deprived wards in the country, the council has had its funding for the nurseries reduced by �1m over the next four years.

Most Read

Education in general is a big loser with around 4,250 16 to 18-year-olds in the borough who are in further education losing up to �1,100 each year after the Government binned the Education Maintenance Allowance.

More parents will have to fork out for their children’s lunches as grants for free school meals are squeezed and a slash in funds for adult-learning courses will force institutions like BACES in Stonebridge to charge students the full rate for GCSE and A-Level courses.

In addition, the numbers of children without a school place could balloon to more than 500 as the amount of capital programme funding given to the council will plunge by 66 per cent over the next four years.

The much needed cash injection from the Government allows local authorities to manage some school’s programmes, day-care centres, homes and nurseries.

It will also be the final chapter for several libraries in the borough as council chiefs decide which ones will be closed for good.

In a further blow to their financial woes, the council has been left with one of the lowest reserves in London with only around �8m secured for emergencies.

Brent was one of the local authorities who had ploughed millions into an Icelandic Bank which collapsed in October 2008 while under the previous Lib-Dem/Tory coalition administration.

Cllr Muhammad Butt, deputy council leader, said: “Tough decisions need to be taken and I know people are very worried what cuts will mean for them.

“This council will fight for all our residents and make sure we continue to deliver our key services.

The Government is hitting some of out must vulnerable residents and it’s really not fair.

“Yes, we have to make cuts but this is too deep and too quick.”