Public's response to Leicester City Council cuts are revealed
Hundreds of people have taken part in a consultation on multi-million pound budget cuts proposed by Leicester City Council.
Yesterday, the council published responses to its plans to save £3 million from its annual £288 million running costs from April, and a further £6 million the following year.
The proposed cuts include slashing £2.2 million from the amount spent on its homelessness strategy and more than £5 million from its budgets for the city's children's centres.
However, according to a city council report, plans to cut spending on library books have proved the most contentious.
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The council asked people to list the five proposals people most disagreed with, after the budget was put out for consultation in December.
There were 283 responses from individuals, charities, unions and community groups and 104 of them disagreed with cutting £49,000 a year from the council's £534,000 budget for library books.
The proposed scrapping of subsidies for bus travel to get post-16 students with special needs to college also caused concern, with 86 objections, as well as intended savings of £120,000-a-year by ending free half-far bus travel for pensioners before 9.30am.
Consultees also objected strongly to reducing the hours the council's noise control team works and the scrapping of funding for Easter and half-term play schemes.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said he was putting the finishing touches to the controversial proposals ahead of them being debated and decided on Wednesday.
He said: "I have listened carefully to what people have said through the consultation process and also to what councillors have been telling me.
"Over the weekend and the next few days I will be taking that information to come up with proposals. I will present those to the Labour group on Monday night before taking final proposals to the council on Wednesday.
"We will have some very difficult decisions to make given the cuts in funding we will have to endure from the Government. It is not a pleasant task.
"However, we will do our best to protect the vital services people in this city need us to provide."
The consultation showed there was backing for the planned dismantling of the £45,000-a-year big screen in Humberstone Gate, as well as wide support for cutting the annual grants to Curve, De Montfort Hall, and Phoenix arts venues from £2,192,000 by about 10 per cent over the next two years.
Sir Peter said: "I wasn't surprised to see a lot of people wanted rid of the big telly in the high street.
"Some people say we could make dramatic savings at our arts venues but I don't accept the view we can continue to be serious about culture and not ensure continued support for them.
"Some councils have scrapped such provision altogether. That is short-sighted, though some savings will have to be made."
Within the budget, a council tax rise of 2 per cent is planned and 100 council staff posts will go, in addition to the 637 that have been axed over the past two years.
Unions have issued Sir Peter with a warning about the impact of further staff cuts.
Leicester City Unison branch spokesman Gary Garner said: "We have seen an unprecedented level of redundancies over the past two years, coupled with the deletion of vacant posts.
"The council is staffed by an ever-decreasing workforce.
"Unison has gathered a significant amount of anecdotal evidence that they (the staff) are, in fact, buckling under the strain."