Jobs under threat as cuts hit Bodmin Town Council
CASH-strapped Bodmin Town Council will be forced to make staff redundant and sell off at least one of its iconic buildings after cuts to its income.
Councillors have identified the Shire Hall, Public Rooms and Shire House as buildings that could be sold.
The council says services will also suffer after council tax benefit changes have slashed more than £200,000 from its budget. The town council will lose 23 per cent of its annual income, amounting to £177,00, as a result of changes in the way the Government subsidises council tax benefit, which Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles revealed last month.
Cornwall Council had the option of protecting town and parish councils' income from the changes but, unlike some authorities, has chosen not to do so.
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Bodmin may receive a one-off transitional payment of £38,000 in 2013 but this will be dwarfed by potential redundancy costs.
Bodmin will take a bigger hit than most councils in Cornwall because it has a larger than average number of residents receiving council tax benefit and a lower percentage of properties in the more expensive council tax bands.
Once other costs like inflation are taken into account, the total reductions made by the council are likely to exceed £200,000.
Councillor Ralph Solomons, who is in charge of the council's finances and staffing, said: "The council has some huge decisions to make unless council tax payers are prepared to cough up increases of up to 23 per cent or Cornwall Council is prepared to reconsider and take up a fairer share of these government cuts."
The town council provides a range of services for the town, including cemeteries, an award-winning tourist information centre, a town centre CCTV system and local recreation areas like Priory Park.
Mayor Ken Stubbs said: "At the moment nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out, because the council only learned of the full scale of the cuts from Cornwall Council on the Friday before Christmas. But we cannot cut spending by a quarter without making staff redundant.
"Neither can we avoid cutting some of our services, so there will be many people in the town who won't like what we have to do."
The council also owns a large portfolio of property in the town. When the courts moved out of Bodmin, the council took on Shire House and Shire Hall.
Among the other properties owned by the council are Narisa Hall, the Public Rooms, five public toilets, Bodmin Town football pitch and Berry Tower.
Mr Solomons said: "Repairs to the Shire House roof will cost more than £300,000 and before long we'll have to spend even more on the Public Rooms.
"Since we won't have the money in future to meet these bills, some of our property will have to be sold, mothballed or let at market rents. This will have to include at least one of Shire House, Shire Hall or the Public Rooms. These are clearly very difficult decisions and I am interested to hear what the people of Bodmin think before we finalise the budget."
Cornwall Council has set a deadline of January 31 for town and parish councils to agree the cuts they need to make and set their budgets.