WINCHESTER’S Labour Party has slammed the county council’s plans for “damaging the most vulnerable in society.”

Hampshire County Council’s financial strategy for 2025/26 was approved at a full council meeting on Thursday, November 9, to help meet the £132 million budget shortfall estimated to hit the authority from April 2025. 

Now the proposals including cuts to community transport and school crossing patrols have been approved, they will be open for a second round of public consultation from January.

Following the meeting, Winchester Constituency Labour Party (WCLP) condemned the proposals as “unacceptable”, stating they will harm some “of the most vulnerable in society.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Peter MarshPeter Marsh (Image: Winchester Constituency Labour Party)

READ MORE: Winchester parents fear cuts to school crossing patrols

Peter Marsh, WCLP, said: “The budget cuts proposed by Hampshire County Council will inflict untold damage on some of the most vulnerable in society. Cuts to local transport, school crossing patrols, and proposals to pass social care responsibilities onto the voluntary sector are simply unacceptable.

“Local authority funding has been decimated under 13 years of Tory government – but the county council cannot absolve itself of responsibility.

“As a Conservative-led council, it needs to hold its own party to account and show that the cuts local authorities face are unsustainable and the choices it is making do not reflect the priorities of working people in Hampshire.”

Hampshire Chronicle: WCLPWCLP (Image: Winchester Constituency Labour Party)

SEE ALSO: Hampshire County Council to approve latest round of cuts

Cllr Rob Humby, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “Making the most of the public’s money is our priority and we take very seriously our legal responsibility to ensure we deliver a balanced budget.

“We cannot wait for a long-term national remedy however, so it’s up to us to look at what we can do locally to start to close the budget gap in future years and ensure we can continue to deliver services that protect those children and adults who most need our help.  

“Following the decision by the full county council, we will soon invite people to consider more detailed options to help lower costs in future and what it might mean for them if we were to do things differently after April 2025.

“In our public consultation held this summer, changing services is something that residents told us they would be supportive of, and an example of this might include school crossing patrols for instance, where we are legally bound to ensure children get to school as safely as possible, but we are not required by law to do this through the dedicated provision of school crossing patrol officers. There may well be effective alternative ways of doing things, which could be identified in this area, and others.” 

Final decisions will be made by individual cabinet councillors later next year.  

The full list of areas to be consulted on are:

  • Changes to the way in which contributions towards non-residential social care costs are calculated 
  • Proposals relating to the Adult Social Care grants programme for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations 
  • Proposals relating to grant funding provided to Hampshire Cultural Trust
  • A review and consolidation of existing one-off competitive grant schemes which provide grants to a range of community groups and organisations  
  • Proposals to reduce planned highways maintenance, with planned maintenance activity continuing at reduced levels until government funding allows it to be reinstated
  • Proposals to reduce the cost of the Highways' winter service by reviewing current provision against statutory requirements and seeking innovations which can further reduce costs
  • Withdrawal of all remaining funding on non-statutory public transport provision
  • Proposals to develop criteria to identify countryside carparks where charging could be introduced
  • Proposals to extend the existing dimming and part-night streetlight switch off time in residential streets, where appropriate and based on local evidence
  • Proposal to review the School Crossing Patrol service to determine whether alternative safe measures could be put in place
  • Withdrawal of all funding for non-statutory Homelessness Support Services
  • Proposals to review the existing 24 Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRCs) service provision to inform a revised strategy for service delivery, taking account of best practice across the country and national guidance and enabling the provision of more modern, accessible sites. The revised service could include varying the opening hours of HWRCs, reducing the number of existing HWRCs, building new HWRCs or extending capacity of existing HWRCs, and/or introducing new charges for discretionary services at HWRCs
  • Proposals to reduce library stock levels