Cruiser action among more cuts to services by Cheltenham Borough Council
CASH-STRAPPED Cheltenham Borough Council is preparing to cut back on some of its services in an effort to save more money.
The authority has said its staff will no longer deal with areas it has no obligation to cover.
A report to the cabinet identified a number of services including: helping police tackle the problem of cruisers, giving advice and directions to drivers looking for parking, speaking to taxis about issues they face, and checking the quality of repairs to the road.
But the ruling Lib Dem administration could not explain to the Echo what these cuts would involve in each case, or how much money it would save the authority.
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It said many of the tasks were the responsibility of Gloucestershire Highways, or could be stopped without creating major problems for residents. However, the decision has been criticised by the council's Conservative group.
Councillor Rob Garnham (C, Park), Conservative group leader, said: "There is no question that this is a cut in services, forced upon the Liberal Democrats by their own inaction."
The changes have come about as part of the county council's decision to take over the enforcement of on-street car parking.
The changes will be brought in from April 1.
Councillor Paul McLain (C, Battledown) said it raised questions about what the authority was now responsible for.
He added: "This is yet another nail in the coffin for Cheltenham Borough Council.
"Housing in the town is run by Cheltenham Borough Homes. Waste collection and street cleaning are done by Ubico.
"The council is about to offload all its leisure services into a trust and sell off the Municipal Offices. What's left?
Councillor John Rawson (LD, St Peters), the borough council's cabinet member for finance, said the resulting reorganisation did not mean the council would stop being heavily involved in transport issues.
He said the council would be taking part in Cheltenham Development Taskforce's Think Travel sustainable transport project, which includes plans to improve signs for pedestrians and facilities for cyclists.
Mr Rawson added the authority would stay involved in any transport issues which affected public safety, and would work with Gloucestershire police to tackle any anti-social activities, like cruisers.
He said: "At a time of great financial difficulty, I think we have to pull back from activities that are largely shadowing or duplicating the work of the county council.
"People in the town may need to get used to going direct to Gloucestershire Highways when they have transport issues, instead of using the borough council as a go-between.
"But we will still do the essentials, such as working to protect the environment and safeguard the public."