Liverpool City Council has warned that it might be forced to close roads if they become unusable in the face of severe government imposed cuts.
Nearly a quarter of budget axed
This week it asked residents to help it cut £91.4M from its £400M budget over the coming financial year.
Residents are being asked to choose between cuts to highway maintenance, waste collection, education services, social care, social housing, culture and leisure facilities and environmental initiatives.
The council spends £47M a year on roads and refuse collections, but is asking residents to consider cutting this to £24M.
But it has warned that cutting back on highway maintenance could lead to a significant increase in deaths from road accidents as roads deteriorate.
Roads and pavements “will have to close”
It says many roads and pavements will have to close, flooding of roads and pavements will become common and whole areas of the city will have no street lighting. Broken traffic lights will also go unmended.
Children and the elderly will be particularly affected, it warns.
Rat running, speeding and parking problems would also become major issues across the city. Congestion will increase and whole areas of the city could come to a standstill.
Last September, Swansea City & County Council became the first local authority to move toward road closures because of funding constraints (NCE 2 September 2010). It closed Trewyddfa Road in the Morriston area of the city on safety grounds.
“Our priority is to protect, as much as we can, essential services to children, the disabled and vulnerable who need the lifeline of the services the council provides,” said Liverpool City Council.
If cash for roads is protected, other services will have to suffer. Alternatives include closing nurseries, care homes, libraries and axing CCTV cameras.
Residents have until 20 February to vote for their choices.
Big Society boycott
Liverpool City Council leader Joe Anderson has written to prime minister David Cameron informing him that the local authority is pulling out of the government’s Big Society plans.
The city was one of four pilot areas for the scheme, aimed at giving community groups and volunteers more control over local services.
But in a two-page letter, Anderson tells Cameron that government cuts have “seriously undermined the ability of community organisations to improve the quality of life of residents.”