Anger at Mayor Gordon Oliver's plan to cut £10m from Torbay budget
Torbay's elected mayor has been accused of "fiddling while Rome burns" after announcing plans to "salami slice" a further £10 million from council services.
Tory leader Gordon Oliver has published proposals to reduce Torbay council's £137 million budget next year, claiming grant reductions of 28% by the Government have set politicians an "unprecedented challenge".
Mayor Oliver has promised a "painful" round of cuts which will in some cases lead to the scrapping altogether of services.
Unions and opposition councillors have criticised the process as unclear and said Mr Oliver was lacking in bold and innovative ways to deal with the huge reduction.
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Labour councillor Darren Cowell said: "The trouble is we keep taking this salami-slicing approach – fiddling while Rome burns.
"Whole departments are a risk and it is unsettling for staff – it is a diminishing scale – sooner or later there will be nothing left to cut and we will be providing only statutory services."
Mr Cowell also questioned why the Riviera International Conference Centre, which enjoys an annual subsidy of more than £750,000, was not taking its "share of the pain".
This sentiment was echoed by UKIP councillor Julien Parrott, who has called for a radical approach including scrapping the Safer Communities scheme and closing one of the town's libraries.
"Key decisions have got to be made and people will have to get used to the fact that there are less services provided by their local authority," he added.
"There has been no clear statement of priorities from the mayor – shaving off a bit here and there is useless because all the services become deficient." Publicity events have been held since September to canvass opinion on the draft budget 2013/14, which has now been released for consultation with £9.3million in suggested cuts.
The authority said it had "proved difficult" to produce a public consensus with no one group at one event able to find the total savings required
More than £3 million is set to be cut from Adult Social Care and Supporting People and £1.3 million from Children's Services.
The Residents and Visitors budget also faces a hefty drop of £1.5 million with smaller cuts earmarked across the board.
Mayor Oliver said the scale of the challenge "can't be emphasised enough", but pledged he was committed to "listen and re-examine everything".
He added: "There are certainly no easy answers in proposing this budget, and it has and continues to be a painful process.
"The reduced funding available to us will mean tough decisions; some services will be reduced; some will need to be delivered in a different way and some will stop altogether.
Paul Raybould, of the GMB union, criticised the public consultation events and said there was "no real detail" in the budget, which he feared would see the "axe fall" on staff.
"We have been cut to the bone and there is not much left to cut," he added.
"If it is cut by any more it won't be able to run its own affairs and will not be viable."