Pudsey Civic Hall could be closed amid a wide range of city-wide budget cuts set to be introduced by senior Leeds councillors next week.
Members of the council’s decision-making executive board want to set next April’s budget – and say Pudsey Civic Hall, at Dawsons Corner, operates at a loss and should be closed. The building and land will potentially be made available for sale.
The Civic Hall was opened in 1972 and has three spaces available for hire for trade shows and exhibitions, dances, weddings, meetings and shows. It also had car parking for 300 cars.
Building closures and sales, new car parking charges, service and staffing reductions and price increases are among wide-ranging changes being proposed as Leeds City Council sets out its annual budget plans for next year.
The council has today published its initial budget proposals for 2024/25 which will be discussed by senior councillors at the executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday, 13 December. The proposals identify ways to save a further £58.4million in the year ahead alongside £7.4m of already agreed savings to deliver the required balanced budget.
The key proposals include:
- Council staffing levels to reduce by up to 750 full-time equivalent posts by the end of the 2024/25 financial year (the council currently has approximately 3,440 fewer staff than it did in 2010) with ongoing trade union consultation to avoid compulsory redundancies
- Council tax to increase by 4.99 per cent (with two per cent of this dedicated to support adult social care funding)
- To explore options to reduce opening hours at community hubs and libraries across the city
- Knowle Manor Care Home in Morley to close due to the building not being adequate for future care provision, Dolphin Manor Care Home in Rothwell to be repurposed to become a recovery hub
- Reviews of fees and charges for adult social care in Leeds
- Review of council-managed children’s centres and Little Owls nurseries, based upon sufficiency need and financial viability
- Review of fees and pricing for the hiring of community centres in Leeds
- Charging proposed to be introduced at car parks at Barley Hill Road in Garforth, Netherfield Road in Guiseley, Fink Hill in Horsforth and Marsh Street in Rothwell. Consultation on introducing charges at two car parks in Wetherby is already underway
- Car parking charging proposed to be introduced at Middleton Park, Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam Park. Initial consultation has already been undertaken about introducing charges at Golden Acre Park and Otley Chevin Forest Park
- Council to seek to end lease at Thwaite Watermill Museum (Thwaite Mills) through discussions with owners Canal & River Trust
- Bulky waste removal charges to remain free for each household’s first collection and then be reintroduced for more than one collection in the same year
As confirmed by the council in September all assets and services are being continuously assessed and reviewed to see how they can help mitigate the financial position. The council has also enacted a freeze on recruitment, as well as on non-essential spending except where necessary for health and safety or statutory reasons.
The financial difficulty being experienced across local government reflects issues being felt nationally as a result of rising costs and demand for services, especially for looked after children, those with special care and education needs as well as for adult social care, together with an unfunded nationally-agreed pay increase for council staff.
The position in Leeds also reflects the impact of funding reductions, cost increases and demand pressures for council services since 2010. Between 2010 and the end of 2024/25, the council will have had to deliver savings totalling £795million in that period.
After previously calling the system of local government funding “broken”, the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis is clear that council services will have to change with the aim of avoiding the financial difficulties being currently experienced by councils around the country.
Cllr Lewis said: “We know some of the proposals we have set out today will be unpopular as they will have a challenging impact on people’s lives. As is increasingly being seen around the country, councils have only very difficult choices left to use to balance their budgets, meet the needs of residents and not risk being driven to the point of financial distress. Local government cannot continue in this way, it simply isn’t workable.
“In the immediate short-term, we call on the government to use the upcoming finance settlement to provide the urgent help all councils clearly need, especially in the face of the rising costs and demand in children’s services to help support and protect our most vulnerable children and young people.”
The full council report can be found here.