Council shake-up may cost 380 jobs

NEARLY 400 jobs will be lost if Suffolk's district and county councils are merged into a single authority, it has been claimed.

Laurence Cawley

NEARLY 400 jobs will be lost if Suffolk's district and county councils are merged into a single authority, it has been claimed.

The Boundary Committee for England is looking at two options to turn Suffolk into a single-tier local government system.

The first is a single unitary authority covering the whole of Suffolk and the second is a two-unitary proposal with one covering rural Suffolk, the second serving Ipswich and Felixstowe.

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It has now emerged that the single unitary option would involve a cull of 380 jobs from authorities across the county.

The county council claims a single unitary would need 380 fewer full-time council workers - a saving of �14million each year. It says the job losses would only come into effect after the new authority was set up - expected to be 2011. Although it claims most of these jobs would be shed by not filling vacancies, it has not ruled out compulsory redundancies.

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A spokesman said: “Our figures show that a single council for the whole of Suffolk would need around 380 fewer full-time posts after four years saving around �14m annually.

“This is a reduction of about 4% of the total number of current full time equivalent posts in all the councils in Suffolk.

“Employee turnover currently exceeds 10%, so we would expect that the majority of redundancies could be managed through vacancy management, as we do in the county council now.”

Jeremy Pembroke, county council leader, said: “We believe that the One Suffolk option serves the best interests of the county as a whole, especially in the current economic downturn.

“It's the only option which is big enough to speak up for the whole of Suffolk, to deliver quality services when less money is available and therefore gives the best deal for Suffolk's council tax payers.”

Figures for the possible number of job cuts which would ensue from the two unitary proposal were unavailable at the time of going to press.

Outlining the proposals, Archie Gall, director of the Boundary Committee, said: “Councils in the county provided is with the figures we needed to come up with information, and our independent financial consultants carried out an analysis of those numbers.”

Nobody from Unison was available for comment.

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