Increase council tax, end museum leases and add car parking charges to local parks: how Leeds City Council proposes to save next year

There’s a long list of suggestions.

Leeds City Council has announced a series of building closures, sales and staffing reductions for 2024/5.

The council published its initial budget proposals for the new year yesterday and are set to be discussed by senior councillors at the executive board meeting on Wednesday 13 December 2023/

The proposal suggests ways to save some £58.4 million for the year ahead and includes:

  • Council tax to increase by 4.99 per cent (with two per cent of this dedicated to support adult social care funding)
  • To explore options to reduce opening hours at community hubs and libraries across the city
  • Knowle Manor Care Home in Morley to close due to the building not being adequate for future care provision, Dolphin Manor Care Home in Rothwell to be repurposed to become a recovery hub
  • Reviews of fees and charges for adult social care in Leeds
  • Review of council-managed children’s centres and Little Owls nurseries, based upon sufficiency need and financial viability
  • Review of fees and pricing for the hiring of community centres in Leeds
  • Charging proposed to be introduced at car parks at Barley Hill Road in Garforth, Netherfield Road in Guiseley, Fink Hill in Horsforth and Marsh Street in Rothwell. Consultation on introducing charges at two car parks in Wetherby is already underway
  • Car parking charging proposed to be introduced at Middleton Park, Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam Park. Initial consultation has already been undertaken about introducing charges at Golden Acre Park and Otley Chevin Forest Park
  • Pudsey Civic Hall which operates at a loss to be closed and potentially made available for sale
  • Council to seek to end lease at Thwaite Watermill Museum (Thwaite Mills) through discussions with owners Canal & River Trust
  • Bulky waste removal charges to remain free for each household’s first collection and then be reintroduced for more than one collection in the same year
  • Council staffing levels to reduce by up to 750 full-time equivalent posts by the end of the 2024/25 financial year (the council currently has approximately 3,440 fewer staff than it did in 2010) with ongoing trade union consultation to avoid compulsory redundancies

The news comes after Leeds City Council set ‘significant new measures to meet ongoing budget challenges’ back in September.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis has said:

“We know some of the proposals we have set out today will be unpopular as they will have a challenging impact on people’s lives. As is increasingly being seen around the country, councils have only very difficult choices left to use to balance their budgets, meet the needs of residents and not risk being driven to the point of financial distress. Local government cannot continue in this way, it simply isn’t workable.

“In the immediate short-term, we call on the government to use the upcoming finance settlement to provide the urgent help all councils clearly need, especially in the face of the rising costs and demand in children’s services to help support and protect our most vulnerable children and young people.”

Despite the financial difficulty, the council remains committed to the Best City Ambition for Leeds to be a welcoming city with a strong economy offering opportunities for all, tackling poverty and inequality through the key pillars of health and wellbeing, inclusive growth and zero carbon.

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