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
More than 30 frontline South Tyneside Council jobs are to be shed in a new bid to streamline services.
The council needs to cut 33 posts in the areas of housing services, community safety and street cleaning – reducing staff from 150 to 117.
It is hoped the majority of jobs will go through voluntary redundancies, redeployment and early retirement.
The plan is to establish a new streamlined housing and area management team to be overseen by South Tyneside Homes.
Coun Ed Malcolm, the council’s lead member for resources and innovation, said the new approach was part of a bid to “deliver frontline services in the most efficient way possible”.
But Merv Butler, branch secretary with Unison South Tyneside – which is now in consultation over the changes – described them as “worrying”.
One employee affected by the switch said frontline services would “inevitably” be cut as a result.
Among the posts threatened are housing officers on various grades, tenant enforcement officers and community wardens and street cleaning managers, supervisors and workers.
Coun Malcolm said: “In the face of unprecedented financial challenges, we have to continue to look at ways of delivering frontline services in the most efficient way possible, without compromising on quality.
“We’ve identified a range of housing, community safety and area management functions across South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Homes that would benefit from being integrated through one single organisation.
“The integration of street cleaning and estate maintenance functions will build on the highly successful Handy Estates pilot that has been in operation across the council and South Tyneside Homes since April 2013, and has received very positive feedback.
“We are confident that this new model will deliver an improved public service by concentrating our resources where there is a proven track record of expertise.”
He added: “We are very conscious that changes of this nature can be unsettling for the staff involved.
“We are doing all we can to minimise uncertainty and have already held a series of briefing sessions with affected members of staff and trade unions representatives.
“Consultation, including one-to-one sessions with affected staff, will be ongoing. While this review will result in an overall reduction in the number of posts, we will ensure that this impacts on staff as little as possible, through management of redeployment opportunities, early retirements and voluntary redundancy.”
Mr Butler said: “The public need to understand the implications of this, particularly in the area of community safety as it could see a reduction in the number of community wardens.
“It is very worrying. The council does have difficult decisions to make but we want to see frontline services protected and our members jobs maintained.
“They see this as the best way of doing this is by creating this new structure. We just hope they are right.”
Although pay protection is in place, one employee, a multi-skilled operative, told the Gazette he believes his salary would be reduced from £19,000 to £14,000 a year under the proposals.
He said: “I just couldn’t exist on that and would to have leave the authority.
“I’m already looking for a new job.
“It’s particularly upsetting because these are workers on the frontline who are dealing with the public on a day-to-day basis, not faceless back office staff
“Those frontline services will inevitably be reduced as a result.
“We feel we have been unfairly selected.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 12 June 2014