Libraries, lollipop patrols, and toilets all facing axe

June 30 2017

FISHPONDS is set to see library hours cut, public toilets shut and lollipop patrols axed as Bristol City Council aims to save another £4.7 million over the next three years.

FISHPONDS is set to see library hours cut, public toilets shut and lollipop patrols axed as Bristol City Council aims to save another £4.7 million over the next three years.

All the changes will be subject to public consultation, which runs until September 5. 

But mayor Marvin Rees made it clear, as he launched the consultation on June 13, that the savings had to be made.

“We still have to balance our budget, and we are working under a national government that is committed to austerity,” he said.

Adult social care is also being cut and neighbourhood partnerships – the local meetings which brought residents together with the police, the council and other bodies - are being wound up.

Mr Rees held out little immediate hope for Bristol to escape the cuts, despite the hung parliament delivered by June 8’s General Election – a result widely seen as a vote against austerity.

Mr Rees said that despite the need for savings, he still wanted a genuine consultation.

He hit out at national politicians who pass the blame for cuts on to local councils.

“We make the difficult decisions at a local level,” he said. “National government says it makes the difficult decisions, but it doesn’t. It makes decisions in the abstract. When we pass our budget we look people in the eye, and we know the impact that some of the savings we have to make have on real people’s lives, because we live in the communities.”

Councillor Asher Craig, cabinet member for communities and deputy mayor, said local government is being run according to an antiquated model. “This is an opportunity to talk to the people of Bristol about how we can do things differently, much more efficiently, and which meets the needs of people today and not how we did things 40-50 years ago.

“There are some harsh prospects here but in many cases we’re supporting outdated, expensive ways of doing things which aren’t really suitable any more. So while there’s definitely a big challenge and many hard choices, there is also a chance to work together on new ways of doing things.

“We are also looking at whether there are ways that the council can support community groups, volunteers and partners to play bigger roles in the delivery of some services. We want to help others to get things done, rather than supplying all the same services ourselves. Getting more involved in your community can help make you happier and healthier, whilst reducing the impact of these savings, so I’d encourage people to keep that in mind as they take part.”

Opposition groups are urging people across the city to join in the consultation and help find ways to stop some of the cuts.

Lib Dem Leader Councillor Gary Hopkins said: "We have consistently put forward more positive proposals but I am afraid that so far the Mayor has ignored our views. We will be encouraging the public to have their say and in particular to write in comments where the sensible option has been excluded from the ‘choices’".

Green Party leader Councillor Eleanor Combley said:  “The changes proposed are huge, and will affect many people across the city, and it is important that you let the administration know if you are one of them. ”

How we might be hit

TOILETS in Fishponds Park, Eastville Park and St George park are among 18 facilities the council plans to close.

The toilets at Snuff Mills and at Oldbury Court would remain open. The aim is to save £40,000 this year and a further £400,000 a year from 2018-19.

Crossing patrols at Minerva Primary Academy, Frome Vale Academy and Begbrook Primary Academy would go, as would those at Chester Park Infant and Chester Park Junior Schools. Lollipop patrols at Glemfrome and May Park would be saved.

Community Links services to people with severe dementia and complex learning difficulties would be ended and transport costs cut.