Havering budget cuts shake up after consultation

Cllr Roger Ramsey

Cllr Roger Ramsey - Credit: Archant

Libraries, youth services, car parking and Queen’s Theatre were at the heart of discussions following results of the public consultation over budget cuts.

Leader of the council Cllr Roger Ramsey (Con, Emerson Park), revealed officers would be asked to look at options, based on opinions of residents over the past three months,

Speaking at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, he said “crime, public safety, recycling, highway, street cleaning and social services” were top of the list.

“We have been deliberating,” he said. “We are asking officers to investigate possible changes in savings and to let us have a report at a meeting on February 4. We need to move quickly.”

First up was the libraries. Original proposals, which would have seen six of the borough’s 10 facilities have their opening hours halved, caused outrage among residents.

Officers will now be asked to look at changing this to five, though there was no word on which one would be saved.

The other five would see their hours reduced to 24, rather than the proposed 25. The reading programme would also be safe, Cllr Ramsey confirmed.

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With Havering having the largest increase in the number of children of any London borough over the past five years, the youth service was also an area councillors wanted to revisit.

“We’ve had a constructive response from staff, really worth examining,” said the leader. “These will enable them to continue their work but make savings we desperately need.”

Plans to charge for parking at parks will also be reviewed.

“There would have been a number of exemptions anyway, explained Cllr Ramsey. “Harrow Lodge Park has areas which are public and areas adjacent to the sports centre.”

The final area for examination will be Queen’s Theatre, with the required savings being spread over three years rather than the proposed two, “to enable Queen’s to adapt in a more measured way to the target.”

Full council will revisit the budget on Wednesday.