Councillor Perry said: “The extent of the County Council’s financial pressures is well-reported. This has required some very difficult decisions to-date, and we have been determined to explore every avenue to meet this challenge. In October, we asked County Council officers to look again at a number of proposals to identify some additional and innovative solutions to making the savings.
"I’m pleased to say that we have made substantial progress on a range of alternative funding options for school crossing patrols, household waste recycling centres and community transport. As such, I’m confident that a significant proportion, indeed the majority of the proposed savings from these areas, should now be found elsewhere. For example, from our street lighting contract where we have overachieved on our savings, and improving recycling measures, working closely with our district council partners – which will free up extra revenue. Members of the Cabinet will agree to the next steps needed to put these plans in place, in the New Year.
"In the meantime, knowing that residents have told us that they would be willing to support raising existing charges or introducing new charges to help cover the costs of running some local services, we believe we have found some sensible and fair solutions for the longer term. To raise the funds required to maintain community transport, we would propose making a small charge for issuing older people’s bus passes. As such, we will be asking Government to allow us to run a pilot scheme to charge £10 for issuing an older persons’ five year bus pass (this works out as £2 per year and is similar to how Blue Badges operate). This would raise approximately £500,000 a year – enough to pay for core community transport.
"I will be putting this proposal to Marcus Jones when I meet with him in the New Year, along with permission to pilot a pay-as-you-go scheme, where people would pay £1 for each Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) visit. This could raise up to £4 million a year.
“If we are able to introduce these initiatives, I remain convinced that they will offer the best approach to protecting these valued services, over the longer term. Even without these additional measures, I am still confident that the extra work we have done in recent weeks means we can now cover the services we were keen to maintain.”