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Jobs must go at Waveney council

PUBLISHED: 08:48 31 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:39 05 July 2010

THE 800-strong workforce at Waveney District Council have all been asked to consider applying for voluntary redundancy, after the authority revealed a budget gap of more than £2m which could lead to the axing of 40 jobs.

THE 800-strong workforce at Waveney District Council have all been asked to consider applying for voluntary redundancy, after the authority revealed a budget gap of more than £2m which could lead to the axing of 40 jobs.

The cash-strapped council faces a budgetary gap of £2.3m in 2009/10 and all aspects of expenditure and income are being examined as part of the financial planning process.

Around 35 vacant posts have already been 'deleted' making a saving of £850,000 and the council has not ruled out compulsory redundancies.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard has called the news “scandalous” saying the staff, and furthermore the public would pay the price for the conservative run council setting a low council tax increase of just 1.8pc, which he branded a “political stunt”.

And other opposition party leaders at Waveney District Council have joined him in their concern over the quality of services that will be provided.

Employees have each received a letter asking them to consider redundancy.

A council spokesman said: “Compulsory redundancies are very much a last resort and the council would hope to keep these to an absolute minimum. While it is difficult to confirm an exact figure, it is unlikely to be any more than around 30-40. While there is no specific focus on any particular areas, all will be considered. But maintaining a high standard of service delivery remains a priority.”

Mr Blizzard said he thought the news was shocking and he had every sympathy for the workforce. “I think it is scandalous to set a budget that was completely irresponsible and to pull a political stunt of setting just a 1.8pc council tax increase. They didn't look into the shortfalls of going down that road and now the employees are paying the price and furthermore the public for damaged services.”

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council said: “We make a judgement each year based both on the financial information available to us at the time and our commitment to the Waveney electorate to align council tax with the rate of inflation. These are very important principles to us.

“Now that we face a different financial picture we are looking at a range of measures to resolve these issues and we have already made considerable savings. The offer of voluntary redundancies puts the decision in the hands of each member of staff and we hope that this will provide a solution that balances our quest to make this council more efficient, with a determination to maintain high standards of service delivery.”

A council spokesman added they were consulting with their trade unions and staff and members had been kept informed throughout.

“Therefore, while this is not an ideal situation, it will not have come as a great shock to staff and, should enough take up this offer, the need for any further measures would be kept to an absolute minimum.

“We have already deleted 35 vacant posts saving £850,000 and we are also reviewing the amount of agency working, overtime, additional hours and other related cost issues.”

He said they was no question of service delivery being compromised and each request will be assessed against service and organisational needs, the relative cost of redundancy against the net saving to the council, the need to reduce central and support costs, sustain improvements in key areas, protect front-line services, achieve enhanced levels of value for money, cost-effectiveness and organisational integration and retain skills and appropriate capacity to achieve council priorities and deal with key issues.

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