Council prepares for ‘night of the falling axe’

Lancaster Market Square where trees are under threat.
Lancaster Market Square where trees are under threat.

One of the most controversial meetings in our district’s recent history will take place tonight (Wednesday).

The annual Lancaster City Council budget talks at Morecambe Town Hall could see £2.8m of cuts to balance the books over the next year.

Museums, town halls, Visitor Information Centres, city centre CCTV and swimming pools are all on the chopping block and a move towards bin collections every three weeks is also on the cards.

Aside from the budget talks, campaigners will present two petitions with more than 1,000 signatures to Lancaster City Council.

A bid to save seven lime trees in Market Square has attracted support from 1,600 people.

The city council wants to chop down the trees to save money.

Honeydew, a sugar rich sticky liquid, has been secreting from the trees onto the street surfaces making them slippery in wet weather.

The council wants to avoid ongoing tree maintenance and street cleaning costs.

Councillors will debate the issue at the meeting.

Meanwhile a proposal to build on green belt land at Bolton-le-Sands and Slyne-with-Hest has more than 1,000 dissenters.

Residents have urged the council not to build on land between Manor Lane, Slyne-with-Hest and Greenwood Avenue, Greenwood Drive, Greenwood Crescent and Pinewood Avenue, Bolton-le-Sands.

Some are concerned it would lead to a loss of the two village’s separate identities and create a ‘Bolton-le-Slyne’.

The council is likely to defer any talks on the issue until after they finalise their entire housing plan for the district.

Meanwhile Slyne-with-Hest Parish Council has applied to create a neighbourhood plan for the village.

This would give residents the chance to decide where new development should be and what it should look like.

The council will consult on the neighbourhood plan until Monday, February 29 before making a decision.

Also at the meeting, a group of city councillors will try to secure the future of local museums by calling for a Lancaster-wide museum organisation or a charitable trust to be set up to run them.

They will also call for the Judges Lodgings museum not to be closed until this idea can be looked at.

The recent floods are also on the agenda at the meeting.

This year’s Lancaster City Council draft budget includes:

Move towards collecting household waste every three weeks from 2020

Charge for collecting green waste

Review future of Maritime and Cottage museums

Charge £1 entry to splash park in Happy Mount Park, Morecambe

New meerkat enclosure at Williamson Park

Scrap funding for CCTV in Lancaster and Morecambe

Cut £780,000 over four years to voluntary, community and faith sector funding

Cut £55,000 funds to Marsh Community Centre

Cut funding to rural public toilets by 50 per cent

Raise pitch charges for Lancaster Charter Market and Morecambe Festival Market by 3.5 per cent

Scrap involvement in International Youth Games

£5m upgrade of Salt Ayre Sports Centre

£1.4m on improving Morecambe streets near the Arndale Centre

Review future of community swimming pools

Review future of both town halls and Palatine Hall

The meeting starts at 6pm. All welcome.