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Met to make 'further stark choices' after pools plan cancelled

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Bradford City MBC has warned of further “substantial” cuts to services after announcing it has cancelled plans to build four new swimming pools.

Leader Susan Hinchcliffe (Lab) said the council’s “rapidly decreasing” budget was “hugely challenged” by a rising demand on adult social care and children’s services.

Unless chancellor Philip Hammond boosts council funding for social care in the autumn statement the city will face “further stark choices” and “the possibility of failing to meet statutory requirements”, Cllr Hinchcliffe told LGC.

The council had planned to close four existing swimming pools and build four new ones, including a £14m flagship sports complex in the city centre.

The plan has now been scaled back after a review found inflation had pushed up costs. 

Instead of closing four existing pools and replacing all of them, three will close. Community pools in Toller and Sedbergh will be built to replace those but the flagship city centre complex will not go ahead and neither will a pool planned in Queensbury.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said the council’s overall budget was expected to fall from £378m in 2016-17 to £300m by 2020.

The council is set to spend £157m on adult social care and about £60m on children’s services this financial year.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “We are currently looking across every area of the budget to see what we can scale back or stop doing – the pressures are so huge.

“Sadly we can no longer keep the full range of services people have enjoyed over the years. There will be substantial losses.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe declined to reveal what other services could be vulnerable, with the budget due to be published on November 28. 

But she said government investment in transport was vital to the city’s future prosperity.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “We need government support to build our infrastructure to enable land values to rise so we can increase our business rates.

“We are a major city on a branch [rail] line. We need to get on a main line and connect with the opportunities that are in the wider west Yorkshire economy.”

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