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‘Dirty Birmingham’ row forces council to scrap £1.5m street cleaning cut

‘Dirty Birmingham’ row forces council to scrap £1.5m street cleaning cut

🕔05.Sep 2014

A £1.5 million council cut to Birmingham’s street cleansing budget has been axed following complaints about the deteriorating state of the city centre.

Deputy council leader Ian Ward took an unusual decision to reverse the cut, even though the savings had been agreed by the cabinet and full council, after receiving a number of emails from business organisations and individuals deploring the state of the central shopping area and outlying suburbs.

Cllr Ward (Lab Shard End) denied claims that he had made a U-turn.

He said: “I am not of the view that once you have made a decision it is stuck in stone. You have to constantly review what you have done in the light of emerging evidence.

“Evidence is coming forward about the level of street cleansing and we have to be cautious about the level of budget cuts that can be applied to this area.

“I have never believed you should stubbornly stick to something in the face of the evidence. I much prefer a flexible approach.”

He is now examining other ways to make the £1.5 million cut, which is required as part of the council’s attempt to address severe reductions in Government grant for Birmingham.

Confirmation of the street cleansing reversal came at a scrutiny committee meeting where the city’s sharply deteriorating financial position was discussed.

Cllr Ward said larger than expected government grant cuts meant Birmingham would have to find £212 million in savings in 2015-16 rather than an anticipated £160 million. By 2017-18 the savings target will rise to £283 million.

The need to find significantly more in savings posed a huge challenge and there was bound to be diminishing expectations about the level of services the council could deliver in future, he added.

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