More than 250 jobs to go at council

MORE than 250 management jobs at Essex County Council are set to be axed as past of a cost reduction programme, it was announced yesterday.

Roddy Ashworth

MORE than 250 management jobs at Essex County Council are set to be axed as past of a cost reduction programme, it was announced yesterday.

The redundancies, which will see the number of line managers at the authority fall by around 16%, represent the first major cull of jobs at County Hall since the economic downturn began two years ago.

Yesterday the council claimed that no front-line services would be affected by the removal of the posts and said that staff at schools would not be affected.

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The Tory-run council has pledged to make �55 million worth of savings this year as part of its ongoing plan to reduce its costs by �300 million by 2012.

In a statement it added that unions are being consulted about the redundancies.

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The council estimates that a total of 275 management jobs will go, representing 2.5% of the organisation's core workforce of 10,900 employees.

Yesterday Derrick Louis, the council's cabinet member for central services, said he believed that the posts could be removed without compulsory redundancies.

He said then council had analysed the workforce structure and that he was confident the number of jobs to go could be met through retirement, voluntary redundancy and a freeze on filling vacancies.

“This process is going to happen over the next few months.

“We are confident it will not have an adverse impact on services - in fact we believe it will improve them, because we want to refocus costs from the back office onto frontline services.

“Essex County Council is no different to any other organisation that needs to get into shape if it is going to cope with these challenging economic times.

“We have also said that we must change and transform ourselves from within so that we can maintain and protect key front-line services.

“That is why the organisation has taken a proactive approach to reducing layers of management that have built up over time to help create a leaner structure.”

However, Tom Smith-Hughes, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition at County Hall, said he wanted to be sure the redundancies were not a “slash and burn” exercise.

“We need to be absolutely sure that these jobs can be taken out of management without an effect on frontline services,” he said.

“There are areas, such as children's services, where it has been recognised management is not effective enough.

“I want to be sure that this is being done in an open, transparent, sensible and business-like way.”

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