SEVERAL essential BCP Council services are planned to be cut back next year to save the council £32m.

The council said the cuts are essential to prevent the authority from going bankrupt.

As part of the cutbacks, the council is planning to switch off quieter residential streetlights in Poole, reduce staff monitoring 24/7 CCTV cameras outside peak hours, and reduce library opening times. 

It’s also proposed that grass cutting will be heavily reduced across the conurbation, Christchurch recycling centre would be closed on Sundays and Mondays, community safety officers would be gone apart from in Bournemouth town centre, and paddling pools could be handed over to external parties to maintain. 

The council currently spends £315.3 million delivering public services to more than 400,000 residents across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole each year. 

But it has warned some essential services, those that are more visible to residents, will have to be cut back in order to fill the £44m budget gap. 

The rising demand on council services combined with an increase in costs to provide services is predicted to add an extra £12.6 million to the cost of running BCP Council over the next financial year. 

Cllr Vikki Slade, leader of the council, said: “We have identified some very difficult some very difficult savings that will close that gap to around £12m, so that’s £32m of savings. 

“Every single one of those is a job loss, a cut to a service, it’s something that has changed.  

“Yes, they are some of the more visible things, but they are also the optional things that we’ve been doing and most councils try to do as opposed to the things we have to do under statute. 

“We’re trying to maintain a level of service, but potentially cutting it back to a level that is more affordable in the long term.” 

The proposals will be put to a public consultation on BCP’s website and in libraries before it goes to cabinet in February.

Cllr Slade added: “We are the safety net for some of the most vulnerable in our society – so we must make sure we have the funds to support them when they need us most. 

“We cannot afford to continue living beyond our means and that means we need to look at what services we can afford to continue to provide in the future.”

What is being proposed? 

  • A review of the grounds maintenance service, which the council said would save £450,000 each year. This includes reducing the number of times grass is cut, with a “large proportion” of the area going unmown. 
  • Christchurch Household Recycling centre could be closed on Sundays and Mondays from September 2024, which would save £100,000 each year.  Currently, it is open seven days a week but it would be closed on a Sunday because that is the day which costs the council to most to run. 
  • The paddling pools, such as in Redhill park and The Quomps in Christchurch, could be run by partners next year under the proposals – a move which could save £107,000. 
  • To save £524,000, the public protection service which covers licencing, environmental health, ASB investigations, food hygiene and safety, animal welfare and noise complaints could run on a reduced service. This would increase response times and would see neighbour disputes no longer dealt with. 
  • The community safety accreditation scheme, which is council officers patrolling Poole, Christchurch and Boscombe town centres, would be axed under the proposals to save £270,000 yearly.  Bournemouth town centre’s officers would be saved, as there is more of a demand and need for it, Cllr Slade said. 
  • Monitoring the 24/7 CCTV cameras could be cut back, too, and will no longer be watched by staff off peak times. This could save £49,000 yearly. 
  • Meanwhile, library opening times are set to be reduced by an average of 10 hours a week per library, which would save £440,200. 
  • Streetlights in Poole’s quieter, residential areas could be switched off between midnight and 6am, under the proposals to save £68,000 a year.  Bournemouth’s lights are difficult to adjust and would require long term investment, while Christchurch’s lights already go off after midnight on quiet residential roads. 
  • Finally, lollipop ladies could be a thing of the past to save around £12k a year. The authority is looking to install pedestrian crossings in place of lollipop ladies once they retire or leave. The first schools affected could be Oak and Elm academies, St Clements/Bethany, St Luke’s Infant School and Livingstone Infant and Junior schools.