More than 150 jobs could be cut as council bosses deal with the continued pressure of government cuts in funding.
North Tyneside Council is looking to make £14m of savings in its 2015-16 budget, with one initiative being a more efficient management structure and 160 job losses.
But officials say it is unlikely any compulsory redundancies will be required, with the losses coming through natural wastage and voluntary redundancies.
Mayor Norma Redfearn said that as a result of the savings, the council is able to protect frontline services with no key facility being considered for closure.
She said: “We have been listening to the people and addressing their concerns.
“We won’t be closing any libraries or leisure centres. Over the last two years, attendance at leisure centres have been increasing.
“With the level of cuts imposed on the council, not all services can continue in their present form.
“However, this budget seeks to protect those services residents have told me are important to them.”
Coun Bruce Pickard added “We started re-organising the council last year.
“We said there is no more than six layers for frontline services and four layers for other services. That is one of the biggest savings in the council.
“We are looking at 160 proposed job cuts. We’ve introduced an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme and had well over 100 people apply.
“Last year, out of the 150 job cuts, only eight were compulsory.”
Mrs Redfearn added: “We’re a public service. We have to think about what’s important to the people we’re serving. That is education, care and living in an environment that is decent.
“As a listening Mayor, in presenting this budget I have taken into account the issues raised and the hardship being experienced by many residents of North Tyneside.”
The final budget, being presented to full council tonight , will see a freeze on council tax levels for the third year running.
Weekly bin collections, fortnightly recycling and the free garden waste collection are also being maintained.
There will also be more investment in roads and pavements, progress on the regeneration of the seafront and Whitley Bay, continuing development on the Swans site on the riverside in Wallsend, and more affordable homes built.
And Mrs Redfearn said it was work on Whitley Bay seafront and the former Swan Hunters site she was looking forward to progressing the most, as it would mean they could then start work on improving North Shields town centre.
She said: “I desperately want to get on with Whitley Bay and Wallsend so we can get on with North Shields.”
Source – Whitley Bay News Guardian, 05 Feb 2015
Around three-quarters of the way through tonight’s Question Time, I was ready to believe the BBC had pulled a fast one on us and we weren’t going to see Iain Duncan Smith get the well-deserved comeuppance that he has managed to avoid for so long in Parliament and media interviews.
There was plausible deniability for the BBC – the Isis crisis that has blown up in Iraq is extremely topical and feeds into nationwide feeling about the possibility of Britain going to war again in the Middle East. The debate on extremism in Birmingham schools is similarly of public interest – to a great degree because it caused an argument between Tory cabinet ministers. Those are big issues at the moment and the BBC…
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PROTESTERS who gathered outside Sunderland civic centre have said £35million budget cuts will be the final nail in the coffin for city residents.
A group from North East People’s Assembly met to lobby councillors ahead of the annual budget-setting meeting yesterday, during which the multimillion pound cuts for 2014/15 were given the green light.
Carrying placards in the shape of coffin lids to signify each public service, which they say will suffer because of the cuts, the group handed out leaflets.
Among the protesters was Sunderland University chaplain Chris Howson.
He said: “The coffins represents the killing off of council services. We wanted to make a point as the councillors went in.”
Despite huge division in political opinion, all 53 councillors who attended the meeting – just over two- thirds of the 74 current elected members – voted through the motion presented by council leader Paul Watson.
One of them, Southwick Councillor Rosalind Copeland, attended the lobby in Park Lane before the meeting, supporting the demonstrators.
Pointing out that she was not there to criticise the council, but to defend what it is legally-bound to do in the face of Government cuts, Coun Copeland said: “I am here to defend my council and the decision my council will have to make – the agony we are facing as councillors.
“As council members, we are having to do things we don’t want to do. The Coalition is pilfering the working class. It is not this Labour group at fault.”
> The revolution will not begin in Sunderland…official.
To streamline finances, the council is focusing on three approaches; recommissioning services, reprioritising spending and exploring alternative ways to deliver services.
This includes reviewing car-parking charges, pest control and burial and cremation fees as well as reducing the authority’s fleet of bin wagons and the introduction of a four-day working week for recycling staff.
At the meeting, Coun Watson said: “Two years ago I said we were experiencing the most difficult economic period in living memory. This position has not changed. Even more pressure has been put on the council, with further reductions in public sector finances.”
He added: “The council has risen to the challenge and has managed these considerable risks.”
Opposition leader Robert Oliver agreed that the budget was “realistic”, and that while the Tory group welcomed the council tax freeze for a fourth consecutive year, the Labour administration should not complain about cuts, which he claimed had arisen as a result of lost revenue.
He said: “The workforce has been reduced and services have improved so it’s a case of go figure.
> And Sunderland is the 5th worst place in the UK to find work. Go figure that. Reducing the workforce might save money, but it also means more people unemployed. More chasing a pitiful few jobs. More coming under the frankly vile regime in the Jobcentres.
“The leader of the council has given us a slightly two-faced speech. You can’t complain about cuts which could have been avoided if there had been a council tax increase.”
On top of the £35million slashed from the coming year’s budget, the authority will have to find an identical amount to cut the following year.
Coun Watson says some of the savings are being mitigated by “hundreds of milllions” worth of capital investment planned until 2018.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 March 2014