Plans for council cuts including closing Bishop’s Waltham tip and removing school crossing patrol in Swanmore on hold due to election

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Bishop's Waltham Recycling Centre

Final decisions on the county council’s plans to reduce and cut several public services will be postponed until autumn because of the upcoming general election.

Controversial plans included closing several tips across the county including the one in Bishop’s Waltham, ending funding for homelessness support and community transport routes and removing school crossing patrols including one serving Swanmore Primary School.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that a general election will be held on July 4th. As authorities enter “purdah”, or the pre-election period, they must adhere to important restrictions on publicity and decision-making activity, especially for key issues.

Hampshire County Council was scheduled to make a final decision on its ‘future service consultation’, which involved reducing and changing some local services to generate £90.4m savings that would aim to reduce or plug the £132 million recurring budget gap faced from April 2025.

The administration said opting to delay has been considered “very carefully” and that any decision about the consultation “should be avoided under pre-election rules”.

Therefore, the need for councillors to participate in the process made it “impossible to run an effective process on the original decision-making schedule”, the county council said.

The council leader, Councillor Nick Adams-King, said residents’ concerns had been heard despite the delay.

He said: “As a result of the general election and conventions around making significant decisions during an election period, the democratic scrutiny and cabinet decisions on the county council’s SP25 savings proposals have been postponed until later in the year.

“If agreed, the proposed changes to services would not commence until April 2025, so there is time for full democratic scrutiny to be undertaken in the autumn.

“I want to be clear though that these will only be proposals, while they will be recommended by our officers as part of the package of measures to meet the budget gap faced by the county council we must, and will, fully take into account their profound impact and the huge public response to the consultation on the proposals that ended on March 31.

“I want to reassure residents that I and my cabinet colleagues have heard the concerns of the public raised in the consultation. We know that the retention of HWRCs (household waste recycling centres) and school crossing patrols, maintenance of vital community transport routes and the continued provision of homelessness grants to the end of their planned contract term are important to both the public and our partners.

“While we will, of course, consider all the detailed proposals included in the SP25 package, we will also consider what other options may be available so that, should we be minded, we can choose different solutions and timescales at the point of our decision-making in the autumn.”

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