On street parking in Helston could be charged for and car parks sold off under new proposals to save money.
Cornwall Council could also stop inspecting all but the highest risk food outlets and businesses in its bid to cut £196 million from its budget over the next four years – despite acknowledging that “this may leave the public exposed to unacceptable risks in respect of food poisoning and unfair trading practices.”
No area of the council’s services is safe, with public health and protection, community safety, health and adult care, and children’s services all coming in for a hit in its 160 page draft of proposed cuts.
One of the biggest changes to Helston could come from county’s free or low income car parks being taken over by the local councils or other |bodies – although the county would keep hold of “strategically important or high income |generation car parks.”
It is not stated which category Helston falls into, but it leaves the potential for the town council to take control. While many could see this as a positive move, there is a sting in the tail in the next proposal – as cabinet members recommend charging for on-street parking “where appropriate”. Helston’s free parking in Meneage Street and Coinagehall Street is highlighted by traders as being of key |importance.
Running of car parks could be handed over to a third party, with the council keeping strategic |control but in a similar way to waste collection – where the contract has been given to Cory Environmental – where a private company would be responsible for day-to-day management. Parking tariffs would be set by the council.
The council hopes to raise more money through “more effective and focused use of existing parking enforcement” and increased charges at off street car parks.
Despite this, it is proposed to reduce the standard of car park “cleansing” in rubbish collections and minimise sweeping and drainage, and surface maintenance.
This would result in a 12 per cent decrease on the current budget – which has already been cut this financial year.
The council admitted it “could mean that response times to address reported incidents will lengthen and frequency of routine maintenance will reduce to just reactive maintenance.”
There are plans to close additional public toilets over the winter, with £150,000 available to save by cutting all council provision between November and March.
There would be no further grants to town and parish councils to help with the maintenance of toilets.
However, the council could save £100,000 annually by simply removing staff colour printers.
It is proposed to take “lollypop” school crossing patrols away from places that have zebra or pelican crossings, although it acknowledges: “Pedestrian safety will not be reduced, but the perception will be that children will be less safe without assistance on formal crossings.”
In winter, the council proposes to reduce precautionary road salting, potentially saving £500,000 a year depending on the extent and duration of conditions.
It would not be possible to continue the county’s National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (due to the necessary level of inspections), visits to prevent the sale of alcohol and tobacco to children may not be carried out, there would be no out-of-hours service to respond to breaches of noise abatement notices, and dog fouling patrols may end, as well as responding to such complaints – although a stray dog collection would continue.
There could be less on-call and trained staff available in emergencies such as flooding and industrial action.
It is acknowledged that fly-tipping could increase as a result of charging for hazardous waste.
In health and adult care, waiting times for assessment could be increased and reductions made in the delivery of services, and there would be a five per cent increase in charges for burials and cremations.
Council staff could be made redundant in a number of departments, with the cuts expected to have a “very detrimental effect” on finance in particular, with 27 per cent (up to 40 full time employees) of the core accountancy and audit workforce potentially losing their jobs.
Cabinet members have put together the document that will go before the full council for a final decision on November 22.
Before then, however, public meetings will take place giving people the chance to voice their opinions and hear more details. In Helston one will be held on Tuesday, October 28 at 6pm, in the Andrew Hall in Church Street.
All the comments and suggestions will be used to produce a revised draft, which will be discussed by the cabinet on November 5 before the full council meeting.