CUTS of more than £150 million have been branded ‘devastating news for Worcestershire’ by a prominent Worcester councillor.
Speaking at a Worcestershire County Council overview and scrutiny performance board meeting, chairman Richard Udall claimed the proposals would create a county of despair and discontent.
As the Observer reported last week, bus services could be slashed, public toilets closed, buildings sold off and home care visits replaced in a bid to save more than £98 million over the next for years.
The council will also deliver millions of extra pounds of savings by renegotiating contracts, cutting back office functions and increasingly becoming a commissioner of services rather than directly providing them, while a council tax rise is also expected.
He said: “When this document fell through our letter boxes last week I think we all came to the view it was devastating news for Worcestershire and largely a situation imposed on us from the outside.
“We will become a county of despair and discontent, it’s going to be devastating for a lot of people and these changes will impact on every household in the county, they will hurt.”
But Coun Adrian Hardman, leader of the council, objected to the notion and said the proposals would provide a change in the way the council worked.
“I cannot say that I quite agree with the synopsis this is going to be devastating for the county. There are certainly going to be some changes but we are not going to lay waste to the county.
“We are going to work differently but our absolute focus is the outcomes and how we do it.”
He added he was confident in continuing to protect the most vulnerable in the county, while repairs to roads would still take place.
Vice chairman Kit Taylor also disagreed with Coun Udall’s comments and said the changes would be ‘interesting and testing’, while councillors had to become emotionally colder when making decisions.
Coun Bob Banks added the savings were ‘nothing new’ and should be regarded as opportunities not threats.
The board agreed to fully investigate proposals constructively, comment and consider ways to outweigh the impact of such proposals and work to limit the effects on the most vulnerable in the county.