Colchester: Services hit and jobs lost as council looks to save money

ABOUT 30 jobs will be axed and a range of public services will be scaled backed as a council looks to find about �3.6 million worth of savings and extra income.

Colchester Borough Council’s street services department is set to take the biggest hit with a planned cut of �627,000 from its budget for the financial year 2011/12.

In a shakeup of the department, residents would see refuse collections reduced from five to four days a week, fewer cleaners on the streets, and wardens handing out more fines for littering and parking.

Across all the council’s departments about 30 jobs will be lost which includes some vacant posts not being filled and some compulsory redundancies being made. Some of the posts being lost include animal control officer, anti-social behaviour manager and a planning officer.

Arts funding in the town will be cut by about �100,000 and sharing senior management with Braintree and Tendring councils will save about �150,000.

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Cllr Paul Smith, cabinet member for resources and diversity said the council was “working hard” to identify an unprecedented level of savings.

“Some of these savings are being made by natural wastage, whilst some redundancies are occurring as part of the fundamental service review process, which is designed to achieve savings but also to improve the service delivery for customers,” he said.

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“Inevitably we will have some very difficult decisions to take and some will be genuinely painful for all of us. We are however determined to protect as many of our frontline services as possible, knowing that they are needed by so many of our residents, whilst also freezing council tax.”

Litter picking and grass cutting at Colchester crematorium and cemetery will be reduced, the opening hours of the Customer Service Centre in the High Street will be cut, beach hut rents on Mersea Island will be increased and the cheche at Leisure World Colchester will be closed.

Cllr Dennis Willetts, spokesman for the Conservative group, agreed that the cuts were necessary, but said some groups, such as the arts, were being treated unfairly.

“There seems to be an attitude that only the trendy middle class go to the theatre,” he said. “Cutting the arts budget means that young people in the town will lose out on a broader cultural experience.”

Recommendations agreed by the cabinet on January 26 will be referred to the full council meeting on February 16 for final approval.

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