Suffolk public service cuts will see 1,500 jobs go

NEARLY 1,500 jobs are set to go at Suffolk County Council under plans to cut �43m from its budget.

Almost all aspects of the council's work will be affected as the county's Conservative administration seeks to make huge savings.

This is all before the council launches its New Strategic Direction which it sees as a way of cutting costs without cutting services too deeply.

Of the 1,472 jobs being cut, nearly half will come from Adult and Community Services, and nearly 350 from Children and Young People's services.

Announcing the cuts, a spokesman for the county council said the majority of the 773 jobs being lost in adult and community services would be 'back office' staff – not those in direct contact with the public.

The job losses are being spread over two financial years – 421 posts are going in the current financial year and 1,051 in 2011-12.

Among services to be cut are the council's funding for the Suffolk SafeCam Partnership and the Suffolk Xplore card for youngsters.

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School transport – especially for youngsters with special needs and for pupils to Roman Catholic schools – is likely to be hit.

Household waste sites will be hit – some will be closed, the remainder will have their hours reduced and they will charge for taking commercial waste.

Launching the proposed cuts, council deputy leader Jane Storey warned that they would be seen as very hard – and would affect many aspects of life in the county.

She said: 'Over the next four years we have to find savings of between �110m and �125m – with a large proportion of that in the first year.

'We are looking to make savings of at least �40m – it will work out at about �43m – this year.

'It has been a very difficult process to come up with these proposals and many people will be very concerned – but I have to say we have looked at very many proposals that we have rejected because they are totally unacceptable to us.'

The cuts were a reaction to the cuts in government revenue to the council – the proposals that will form the county's New Strategic Direction (NSD) will not fully kick in until 2012-13.

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke said: 'We do not want to have to make cuts like this every year which is why we are looking at other ways of delivering services. This budget is not about the NSD. It is about next year's settlement.'

Opposition leaders spent much of yesterday studying the details of the proposed cuts.

Labour deputy leader Bryony Rudkin was dismayed at the scope of the cuts. She said: 'The Xplore card is considered very valuable by young people who use it to take their first steps of freedom.'

Liberal Democrat spokesman for resource management was disappointed to see the proposed cuts to children's services.

He said: 'The Xplore gives young people the opportunity to get out and about in the community – we shall have to see if operators take up the offer.

'And as far as the school crossing patrols are concerned, they are there because the council has made a risk assessment that they are needed and it is appalling that they are being taken away.'