Amendments are made to Portsmouth City Council’s budget cut plans

SAVINGS NEEDED Portsmouth City Council's civic offices
SAVINGS NEEDED Portsmouth City Council's civic offices
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The Vanguard Centre, in Cosham, where work is taking place to transform it into a new school for the city.

Building work begins on new £3.2m Cosham school

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COUNCILLORS were set to decide today whether to approve plans to make £10m worth of savings next year.

As previously reported, the council’s cabinet wants to reel in how much is spent on services and make more money by putting council tax up by 1.95 per cent next year.

The full council was due to scrutinise the plans at Portsmouth Guildhall from 2pm today.

Members were also going to consider some amendments made by the cabinet, such as its suggestion not to reduce grants to organisations such as Aspex Gallery, The Kings Theatre and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which runs Portsmouth Guildhall, could instead shoulder the responsibility and have its £507,000 grant from the council cut by £71,900 instead of £50,000 a year because it has other revenue streams.

Councillor Lee Hunt, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said the move was a good idea because agencies such as Arts Council England would continue to provide grants for smaller businesses.

‘We know the Guildhall is doing very well in the city and it’s got many other revenue streams that others haven’t got,’ he said.

‘I have decided that the money should be put back into places like The Aspex Gallery and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.’

Up to £30m needs to be clawed back overall in the next three years because the government is reducing the amount of funding it gives to local councils.

Under the plans for next year, libraries could have their opening times reduced, the King George V bonfire could be scrapped and disabled people could have their travel tokens taken away.

But the development of sport activities won’t be put on hold and will instead be covered by the public health budget.

Cllr Aiden Gray, deputy Labour group leader, said vulnerable people in the city weren’t being taken into account, and councillors should have their allowances reduced. He said: ‘In terms of travel tokens being scrapped, I think it’s disgraceful to be quite honest.

‘It’s a lifeline to the people who use them. It’s their way of going out and keeping in touch with the outside world.’