Can Portsmouth City Council afford to cut another £9m from its budget? Or, more pertinently, can the people of Portsmouth afford to lose the services that will have to be squeezed to meet this tough target?
Since 2010, according to leader Donna Jones, the council has made £86m of savings. That’s an enormous amount – but it’s still not sufficient.
The pips may have well and truly squeaked, yet now we are told more cuts are on the way.
To some, enough is enough. That’s why campaigners are going to stage a protest rally in Guildhall Square tomorrow ahead of a crucial debate.
The £9m cuts may have already been agreed in principal by the city’s ruling Tories, but they have to get the approval of full council before the savings can come into force.
People such as GMB regional organiser and Labour activist Frank Minal are clearly hoping they can sway hearts and minds before the vote.
He say: ‘We are at a tipping point. There is nothing left to cut without tearing the heart out of council services.’
That’s emotive language, but we’re not talking about trimming round the edges here.
Cllr Jones may claim only 10 per cent of the proposed savings are cuts to front-line services, but the list includes big sums being pulled from areas including children’s and adult social care.
More specifically, sexual health services, alcohol and drug misuse work and community centres will all feel the financial pain.
We know the council is in a difficult position. It’s the same in civic offices up and down the country.
In the end, something has to give. But when swingeing cuts start to affect the vulnerable in society, acceptance is that much harder.