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Councillors lament ‘dark day’ for Hampshire as £140m cuts approved

Hayling Island Household Waste Recycling Centre in Fishery Lane, Hayling Island – half of the county’s tips could be closed although it has not been decided which ones.

Published in the Portsmouth News on the 3rd November 2017

Story by Loughlan Campbell & Millie Salkeld

 

CONCERNS were raised about the future of Hampshire’s public services as radical £140m cuts were agreed by councillors.

Following a lengthy debate spanning several hours, Hampshire County Council gave the green light to the savings on Thursday.

“This is a very dark day for Hampshire and it is a very dark day for this county council”

Councillor Keith House

It means £480m has been cut from the authority’s budget over the last 11 years.

The cuts will strip £55.9m from the adult health and social care budget and the scrapping of half of the county’s household waste recycling centres.

However, measures are being put in place to save the centres with the council agreeing to lobby the government to enable a pay-as-you-go scheme for tips.

As previously revealed by The News, the scheme was put forward during last month’s cabinet meeting as a measure to salvage the centres.

Councillor Roy Perry, the authority’s Conservative leader told councillors: ‘We want to keep Hampshire as a prosperous area. We want to make that people growing up in Hampshire have a future.

‘We would all love to be able to spend and have services everyone wants to have but that is not the real world. We have to save £140m.’

He reiterated the notion of the pay-as-you-go scheme – claiming it would pocket the council an extra £4m.

The opposition leader Councillor Keith House said during the debate that it was ‘a dark day for Hampshire.’

Cllr House said: ‘This is a very dark day for Hampshire and it is a very dark day for this county council.’

‘We have heard from deputations that some of the issues will arise as a result of this package of cuts that have mainly been created by this conservative association.’

Fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor David Simpson added: ‘This is an attack on both the old and the young.’

Labour councillor Michael Westbrook questioned how the authority found itself in the situation.

He said: ‘I have difficulty in understanding just how we found ourselves in this position.’

The cuts were passed by 47 votes to 21, with three councillors abstaining.

An amendment to lobby the government to allow a pilot scheme in relation to the tips was also passed with 49 votes to two, with a further two abstaining.

It is not clear how many full-time jobs will be affected though up to 684 full time roles are at risk across the authority’s key departments.

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