Keir Mudie: Tories’ brutal cuts on public services goes to heart of the nation

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One of the few things I am thankful to the BBC for is ­that although trapped in London I can still get Radio Leeds.

Sunday morning, iPlayer , 9am to 12pm, Tim and Graham on gardening, 180 minutes of garden-based banter.

The last show was a beauty. A lot of talk on composting.

Perfect for the gardening enthusiast or terminally hung over.

But in between the compost chat they had a guest on from the Friends of Roundhay Park. So cool.

If you’re from East Leeds, as I am, you grew up with Roundhay Park.

A special place. Football in the ­summer, sledging in the winter. Bonfire night is massive.

MP Anna Soubry put it: ‘Councils will now have to cut right through the muscle and into the bone.’

Michael Jackson had a concert at Roundhay. So did Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen. There are tropical gardens with a butterfly house.

Anyways. This Friend of Roundhay Park was talking about the volunteer work they do picking up litter – ­supplementing the great job the parks department do.

All good. But more and more we’re seeing volunteers stepping in to cover council cuts. Not just in Leeds but across the country.

This week, the sheer scale of what’s being done to our councils was ­revealed, as new Tory funding plans were laid out.

According to the Local Government Associations local authorities will have a funding gap of more than £3billion this year and ­£8billion by 2025.

Council cash for bus services will also take a hit

What does this mean, in practical terms? Take parks first. One in three parks no longer has any staff on site, park funding has been reduced by at least £15million.

And 95 per cent of councils will make more cuts to parks.

Not bothered about parks?

What about buses? Nearly half of all bus routes in England receive some sort of council funding.

So when the money is cut, so are bus routes. Council tax?

More than half a million households no longer receive council tax support because ­councils can’t protect discounts.

The number of school crossing patrollers – lollipop men and ladies – has fallen by almost a quarter in five years.

The number of school crossing patrollers – lollipop men and ladies – has fallen by almost a quarter in five years

The number of people directly ­employed by local government has fallen by 629,000 over the last 20 years.

We’ve all seen our libraries close, plus swimming pools, community ­centres, museums and galleries.

As MP Anna Soubry put it: “Councils will now have to cut right through the muscle and into the bone.”

Spot on.

One council official told me: “Sometimes we come up with a little slogan to sum up what our budget is about.

“Nothing formal. Just something between us. In the last couple of years it’s been ‘Making difficult decisions’ or ‘How to do more with less.’”

What’s this year’s?

“How the hell are we going to keep the lights on..?”

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