REDDITCH county councillor Robin Lunn has scored a partial success in efforts to save Worcestershire’s Archive and Archaeological service.
The award winning service is in line for swingeing cuts of £405,000 – a 54 per cent reduction in its budget.
Speaking at full council at County Hall, Coun Lunn (Redditch North and Labour group leader), listed seven options to save the service from such a catastrophic cut.
These included charging district councils for the use of the department’s expertise on deciding planning issues, something proposed some years ago but which the authority had failed to act on.
He proposed a motion of ‘This Council calls on the Cabinet Member with Responsibility (Coun Lucy Hodgson (Con, Malvern Chase) to protect the County award-winning Archive and Archaeology Service from cuts in funding which would adversely change its nature and reduce its effectiveness.’
He also asked how the Cabinet member intended to run an effective service after such a cut, and called for no compulsory redundancies.
“Why 54 per cent – where does this figure come from? What plans are in place as to how this service is supposed to operate – what other options are being considered?” he asked, pointing out that the service only took up 0.12 per cent of authority’s budget.
He called for one year’s grace for the county to consider ways to save the service, including making greater use of charging organisations for its expertise.
After stressing the dire financial straits the council was in – 70 per cent of its budget is spent on social care – Coun Hodgson said no budget decisions had been made yet and the council would be canvassing views both on this and other services.
She also promised to set up a members advisory group to see how savings could be implemented and earnings maximised.
However she said it was impossible to rule out redundancies in this or any other service.
She proposed an amendment to the motion inserting the word ‘endeavour’ so it read ‘to endeavour to protect’ the service, which was approved by council.
Speaking after the meeting Coun Lunn said: “What this has done is highlight the importance of the crisis the service is facing and identifying different ways of dealing with it.
“However I want to see the paremeters of the advisory board because if they are going in with the idea of cutting £405,000 it’s a non-starter.”