Union warns over Suffolk cutbacks

THE largest public sector union has warned that this week's cuts in Suffolk could only be the start of a painful period for the county.

Ann Glover from UNISON, which represents thousands of county council workers, said the news that nearly 1,500 jobs could be lost by April 2012 was not a surprise.

She warned: 'This is, of course, not something that is happening because of the New Strategic Direction, it is a reaction to the cuts that are being forced on councils now.'

Ms Glover welcomed the fact that at last some details had emerged – but said it showed that critical services were under threat.

She said: 'Looking at these proposals it seems as if the council is just prepared to wash its hands of vital services that are valued by the community.

'The schools crossing patrols is a case in point – it is a comparatively small amount of money involved but they cannot dip into their millions of pounds of reserves to keep a service that is valued by the public in existence.

'And the ending of the Explore card for youngsters is another example. They say it encourages youngsters to travel for work, training or education yet it is scrapped just like that.'

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She said that when the New Strategic Direction was fully implemented from 2013 there were fears for many more of her members' jobs as services were divested to other bodies.

'And the report we published last month shows that if the county loses a lot of staff that will have a huge impact on the economy of Suffolk as a whole.'

Speaking at the launch of the budget papers earlier this week, deputy county council leader Jane Storey said very tough decisions had had to be made.

The council was being forced to make cuts of between �110m and �125m by 2013 and it was proposing to make �43 million of cuts in 2011/12

She added: '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.'