Kirklees Council is continuing to press ahead with the Huddersfield Blueprint regeneration despite growing financial pressures.
The council has to make savings of £47 million this year and hundreds of jobs could be lost.
The council has frozen recruitment, stopped non-essential spending, is raising fees and charges and is speeding up the planned sale of land and buildings.
At the first meeting of the council’s new-look Cabinet, Tory leader Clr David Hall (Liversedge & Gomersal) asked what was happening with the £250 million Huddersfield Blueprint in the light of the current financial climate.
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for finance and regeneration, said the council’s capital plan was still being reviewed as costs were continuing to rise and it would be brought to Cabinet when complete.
On the Huddersfield Blueprint, he said: “As has always been the case with the Blueprint, it was always designed to be flexible and done in stages so that’s part of the capital plan review.
“We have appointed contractors and they have come back with some prices, and we are looking at those. We are in negotiations about the pricing of the project and once those negotiations bear fruit we will be able to sign the agreement to get on site early next year.”
The meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall was the first chaired by acting leader Clr Cathy Scott (below, left), who announced her new-look Cabinet two weeks ago.
There were to have been nine Cabinet members however one, Batley West councillor Gwen Lowe, has since stood down for family reasons.
Clr Lowe won’t be replaced and her Environment portfolio will instead be shared among other Cabinet members, said Clr Scott. Clr Lowe will continue as a ward councillor. Here’s who’s who on the new Cabinet.
The meeting also accepted a Budget Strategy Update report which will be debated at the next full council meeting on Wednesday September 13.
Also at that meeting there will be a vote to elect the new council leader, expected to be Clr Scott (Dewsbury East).
The biggest union representing council staff, UNISON, has already vowed to fight cuts and job losses. The union says it has been told by the council that there could be around 250 compulsory redundancies.
The union is asking its members whether they want a ballot over strike action and is also planning a protest outside Huddersfield Town Hall as councillors arrive for next week’s full council meeting.
UNISON has also called for the Huddersfield Blueprint to be postponed to save jobs.
The Cabinet meeting lasted just eight minutes and 45 seconds.