OLDHAM COUNCIL is asking for the views of residents as it begins its annual budget consultation process.
The authority must find savings worth more than £20 million next year as cuts continue to the amount of funding it receives from Government.
Since 2009 the council has been required to save more than £192 million and 2017/18 will be the eighth consecutive year during which it has seen a significant fall in funding.
As a result, the council faces another series of extremely difficult decisions which will hit public services hard.
A large percentage of the savings will come from transforming internal processes and working with other public bodies and partners to deliver services in different ways.
Those plans include working more closely with the NHS and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group on social care, health and children’s services and with neighbouring councils on some back office functions.
Some options will directly affect services to the public, including proposals to close the Link Centre, reduce top-up funding to Parish Councils, introduce a charge to cover the cost of producing residents’ parking permits and more rigorously enforcing fines to drivers who ignore bus lane restrictions.
The council is also reviewing the provision of smoking cessation and sexual health services with a view to reducing costs.
A consultation on those options is now open and can be viewed at www.oldham.gov.uk/budget
Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council, said: “The financial year 2017/18 will be the eighth consecutive year in which we’ve had to make significant savings”
“That saving will now amount to more than £212m which has directly been taken away from the people of Oldham by budget savings requirements and the Government’s funding reductions.
“It is simply impossible to remove such a huge amount of money without negatively impacting on public services.
“For 2017/18 we must save more than £20m which has led to some incredibly difficult decisions being taken as to what we put forward to the public for consultation.
“We have no doubt the proposals will concern people, so we are now looking for views on them.
“I hope people will understand the difficult position we face in trying to continue to improve the town whilst seeing our funding reduced by tens of millions each year.
“We would particularly welcome feedback on potential alternative savings or ways in which we could mitigate the impact of the proposed measures.”
The proposals put forward at present go some way towards meeting the savings Oldham Council needs to make but further savings must also be found and more proposals could follow in the months ahead.