Street lights will be dimmer, grass left to grow longer, and the number of public litter bins cut by half across Bracknell Forest as part of proposed cost saving measures next year.

Bracknell Forest Council leaders agreed the proposals as part of draft spending plans that council leader Mary Temperton branded a ‘hard budget.’

And councillor Kathryn Neil – in charge of finance – said the council had ‘tough choices to make,’ adding: “This is not where we would like to be.”

Proposals suggested to Bracknell Forest Council include getting rid of between 450 and 500 council litter bins out of 900 across the borough. Council finance chiefs say this could save some £30,000 in coming years.

READ MORE: Bracknell Forest Council now faces £2.5 million overspend

The number of town centre cleaning staff could also be reduced from four to two, with cleaning only taking place on Mondays and Fridays – a move the council says could save another £50,000 over two years.

Grass verges will be cut once every four to six weeks, and weed spraying will take place twice a year, saving another £80,000 over two years. Currently grass verges are cut once every two to three weeks, and weed spraying carried out three times a year.

Proposals even say that street lights will be 10 per cent dimmer than they are now – a reduction that the council says could save £55,000 next year.

The cuts are part of a draft council budget covering the next financial year, which runs from April 2024 to April 2025. Council chiefs say they need to find some £5.5 million in savings to offset expected extra costs next year.

Councils across the country are under financial pressure, often finding that their income from fees, charges and government funding can’t cover inflation and new costs.

Executive director Stuart McKellar – the senior official in charge of spending – said the savings would only cover areas of new spending in next year’s budget, with inflation adding another £5 million to council spending.

He said: “We’re seeing a big increase in inflationary costs. That’s one of the biggest items of just over £5 million just to provide a standstill of the current services that we provide.

“The draft budget proposals include £5.6 million of budget pressures in addition to inflation.”

Mr McKellar added that the level of government funding awarded to councils next year is expected to be announced next year.

Bracknell Forest’s executive committee – its leading group of councillors – approved the draft proposals on Tuesday, December 12.

Residents are now set to be asked for their view as part of a consultation. And councillors on Bracknell Forest’s overview and scrutiny committee will also get a chance to make suggestions.

The executive committee will then agree a final budget in February next year, which will then have to be approved by the whole council later that month.