New Barrow Borough Council boss warns of service cuts
Last updated at 16:38, Monday, 30 July 2012
BARROW Borough Council boss Phil Huck has warned residents to brace themselves for an inevitable impact on services – after budget cuts forced the authority to shed about 16 per cent of its workforce in just two years.
The new chief executive said the job losses, which so far include 45 voluntary redundancies and five compulsory redundancies, would save town hall about £1.7m a year in staff wages alone.
The belt-tightening is a direct consequence of the government’s austerity measures announced last year that will see £12.775m in funding stripped from the council over the next four years.
The council’s budget strategy aims to reduce annual expenditure by £5.01m by 2015 through a combination of axing jobs, increasing fees and charges and identifying where savings can be made within its operations.
But Mr Huck, who took over as chief executive from Tom Campbell in June, acknowledged while the moves might be unpopular, they were necessary to ensure the council could balance its budget.
“My position is very simple: we will do everything we can to make sure that services don’t suffer,” he said.
“But the level of cuts is so significant I don’t think we can say we’re going to be offering the same level of service that we have in the past because we have less staff to do it.
“(We are losing) a big chunk of our workforce ... so we’re spread a lot more thinly than we were, but we’ll do our best to maintain services within the reduced budget we have.”
A decision to axe five positions – including those of dog warden Bill Burrows and sports development officer Chris Athersmith – was met with fierce opposition from the public.
However Mr Huck said the council would do its best to fill those gaps through the town hall’s remaining workforce, including using its streetcare team to oversee dog control.
“We’re not saying those services will cease to exist, we just have to find more efficient ways of doing them,” he said.
“As far as the dog warden is concerned, we would rely on my streetcare team to take over some aspects of the dog warden service. We’re not saying that we will replicate the dog warden service – I’m not saying that at all – but we will put some mitigation in place to make sure the statutory service we have to provide is maintained.”
Mr Huck said while it would be a difficult few years financially for the council and residents would need to adjust their expectations of what services it could offer, he remained very optimistic about the town’s future.
“If there’s a boom in building locally or investment in industry, then we would benefit from that because we are a significant property holder and our rental income would go up,” he said.
“But unfortunately there’s as many downs as ups at the moment and it would be unwise to rely upon that, which is why we’re taking a rather prudent view (of our spending) at the moment.”
First published at 16:16, Monday, 30 July 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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I'm amazed no-one asked for a few bob for old TC's retirement. Oh wait......
how about spending a bit less on stupid paintings on buildings and put the money to good use
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