Programme of swingeing cuts for Hampshire moves a step forward as government cash reductions start to bite

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PLANS which could further hit services in Hampshire – including library closures and street lights being switched off for longer – and put more than 270 jobs at risk are set to be approved to help county councillors save millions of pounds.  

Council tax is expected to go up by four per cent, some libraries across the county would be at risk of closure, residents could have to pay for services which are currently free and a number of health services could be reduced as Hampshire County Council is trying to save £80m by 2021.
The controversial plans, which county council leader Keith Mans described as the council’s ‘greatest financial challenge to date’, are now set to be approved by the full council at a meeting in Winchester on Thursday.
The details of the proposals are yet to be revealed and will be subject to further approvals and public consultations.
But according to official documents, the department of health and adult social care is the one set to be hit the most with 120 jobs at risk as part of a move that would save £43.1m.
County bosses had previously said that the saving target ‘will challenge the department like never before, and it is inevitable that there will be impacts on front-line services’.

More street lights could be turned off in a bid to help the county council save money

More street lights could be turned off in a bid to help the county council save money

The moves would affect people living in Fareham, Gosport and Havant, but not those in the Portsmouth City Council area.

READ MORE: Axe hangs over Hampshire’s libraries 
New documents published by the authority revealed that up to 80 jobs are at risk in the culture, communities and business department which includes library services and up to 37 jobs could be lost in the council’s corporate services which include HR departments.
As previously reported, opposition councillors raised concerns over the impact the cuts would have on residents in the long term. But council officers had hit back saying the proposals are a ‘direction of travel’.
According to the plans, people with a learning disability could see a reduction in one-to-one and two-to-one support. Services which provide drug and alcohol treatment to adults and young people as well as support for youngsters affected by domestic abuse could also be reduced. Residents could also be charged to dispose of non-household wood waste such as fence panels and sheds and they could also be asked to pay for parking at countryside sites where it is currently free.
Street lights could be switched off for longer hours and some libraries could be closed or have their opening hours reduced in a bid to save money.
Last month Councillor Mans urged the government to develop a long-term funding strategy in a bid to tackle the increasing demand in social care.
Now ahead of Thursday’s meeting he added: ‘This week’s meeting is the culmination of a long and detailed planning process. It has included seeking important feedback from residents and incorporating their views into the proposals. In the meantime, we have an opportunity to influence future funding decisions by central government beyond the next year – by pressing for a fairer deal for shire councils such as Hampshire.’

Maria Zaccaro, Local Democracy Reporting Service