CUTTING services by tens of millions of pounds will plunge Worcestershire back into the Victorian era, it has been claimed.
Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the Labour group on the county council, said plans to slash £30 million from the authority’s budget in 2014/15 filled him with ‘horror’.
But council leader Adrian Hardman hit back saying Labour never put forward any alternatives.
The war of words came during a debate last Thursday (November 7) on the council’s FutureFit Corporate Plan – which sets out how the council will save the £152 million it needs to by 2017 as a result of Government spending cuts.
Axing bus routes, funding for youth homeless projects and phasing out care visits form part of the current proposals which Coun McDonald said he feared would hurt the county’s most vulnerable people.
“These proposals fill me and many others with horror because we consider also that things can only get worse with the continual plans for the future of a future of cuts,” he added.
“We’re also beginning to understand that vulnerable people are being hit with a double impact of faster cuts and a lack of protection.
“The county is already the third highest when it comes to charging for personal care. Despite some services being used by all groups being significantly reduced the cuts will fall more heavily on disadvantaged people who rely on these services.”
Coun McDonald also claimed the council was failing to protect the needs of the community.
“The most vulnerable are being stripped of their dignity and self respect, putting more and more people onto the streets to sleep rough and suffer the consequence of dying young.
“These proposals are bringing local government to its knees, signalling the end of local government as we know it.
“These proposals are not what you’d expect from the civilised society in the 21st century, they’ll take us all back to the Victorian times.”
But Coun Hardman said making the savings was proving to be more tough than originally thought as the council was one of the worst funded in the country.
“We are finding this burden to be much bigger than originally anticipated,” he added.
“We thought we’d have £45 million of budget reductions over three years and now this has risen into a particular challenging next year of some £30 million worth of savings needed.
“What I never hear from the Labour group is any alternative on how it is going to deal with the savings. It never says what it would do differently.
“I constantly reject this accusation you make against us that we don’t care for the vulnerable.
“We reflect the priorities of the people of Worcestershire and they are absolutely clear.”