• Matrix of devastation to measure effect of £110m Devon cuts

    11th April 2014 | News | Claire
  • http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Matrix-devastation-measure-effect-110m-Devon-cuts/story-20943104-detail/story.html 

    An analysis of the potentially devastating cumulative impact of £110million cuts to multiple services across Devon is being prepared.

    Devon County Council leader John Hart told a meeting of his cabinet this week that he was concerned over the combined effect of planned reductions to youth and children’s centres, libraries and care homes.

    The move comes after it emerged that South Molton could become a government case study to assess the effects of cuts to an average market town.

    The Conservative county council leader said he welcomes any independent study by the Coalition and revealed he is already planning his own “matrix”.

    “Devon, like every other council in the country, is faced with making unprecedented spending cuts as a result of the Government’s austerity measures,” Mr Hart added.

    “As both leader of Devon County Council and chairman of the organisation representing all South West councils, I have consistently warned Ministers that we cannot continue to make cuts without them having an effect on local people.

    “We have launched a series of consultations and it would seem very sensible to see which areas are most affected.”

    The county has been hit by huge reductions in grant funding with the council’s budget to be reduced by some £110million by 2017 with a similar amount cut since 2010.

    Mr Hart revealed the plan to measure the social and economic effect of the planned closures and staff cuts announced in recent months in response to a question at a public meeting on Wednesday.

    Independent councillor Claire Wright quizzed the Tory chief after concern at the impact of the likely loss of a range of important community facilities on Ottery St Mary and its surrounding villages.

    “Ottery is set to lose its youth centre, its library and possibly its children’s centre,” she added.

    “There are also question marks about changes and cutbacks at Ottery St Mary Hospital and the town lost its police enquiries desk a year or so ago.

    “It is shocking how the landscape of Ottery’s public services could change in such a short space of time. and with hundreds of houses planned across the parish these services will be even more needed than they are now.”

    In South Molton, Beech House Care Home and the Youth Resources Centre are under threat of closure while the future of the cottage hospital and many other services is uncertain.

    Town councillor David Worden told a recent meeting of the SPARSE Rural and Rural Services Network in London that South Molton would be “ideal” for a Government study.

    He said: “Like many other towns, South Molton is facing a funding crisis the scale of which I have not experienced as a councillor before.”

    North Devon MP Nick Harvey, who has been campaigning about unfairness in the way local government funding, said Devon County Council is now consulting on a raft of cuts that has people up in arms.

    “Despite this local residents continue to pay far higher council taxes than people in urban areas,” he added.

    “This is a totally unacceptable situation.”