Council staff face job cuts
THE threat of job cuts and redundancies is looming over workers as a council prepares to face a massive budget deficit next year.Bosses at Colchester Borough Council have ordered a thorough review of “back office” operations at the town hall as it grapples with anticipated budget cuts of £1.
By Roddy Ashworth
THE threat of job cuts and redundancies is looming over workers as a council prepares to face a massive budget deficit next year.
Bosses at Colchester Borough Council have ordered a thorough review of “back office” operations at the town hall as it grapples with anticipated budget cuts of £1.8million.
Departments due for efficiency scrutiny include personnel, payroll, legal, civic and committee services, catering, communications, policy, finance, administration and information technology.
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A council spokesman said the review is intended to gauge whether these services are fit for purpose, cost effective and flexible enough for the changing size and needs of the council.
But yesterday council leader John Jowers admitted there would certainly be some job cuts and possibly redundancies.
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He said: “We do need to see if the number of our support staff reflect the number of people working for us as a whole.
“Our housing department has been transferred to an Arms Length Management Organisation (Almo), our highways department has recently reverted to Essex County Council and it looks likely our leisure services are going to become a separate trust.
“This is a review we have to have. We have salami sliced the organisation virtually to the bone, and unfortunately we have to look at the marginal amount of fat left.
“The only alternative is to raise council tax and I am committed to keeping that down.”
Mr Jowers added that savings had already been made by making cuts in senior management, where 12 posts were amalgamated into seven.
He stressed that maintaining and improving frontline services was the council's priority in order to serve the people of the borough as well as possible.
Mr Jowers said: “There are going to be job cuts, but we have an 11% annual turnover of staff and we would hope they could be met by non-recruitment.
“However, there is always the prospect of redundancies.
“These are very hard decisions, and they are not pleasant to make. However, that is what we are elected to do.”
Yesterday Jackie Martin, the council's branch secretary for public services union Unison, said: “We have had a very short briefing and job cuts have not been mentioned.
“We are keeping an eye on it and are waiting to see what they come up with.
“We are concerned. Although they say the council is getting smaller with the loss of some areas like the Almo and Highways there are still other things coming on board such as the regeneration projects.
“The work is still there to be done.”