£10m savings bid risks jobs

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
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UNION leaders fear up to 200 town hall jobs could be lost after Blackpool Council revealed it must slash another £10m from its budget.

Following on from this year’s cuts of £27m, town hall chiefs must make further spending cuts next year.

Mike Booth

Mike Booth

Workers are being urged to once more forego pay rises and take unpaid leave in order to ease the deficit.

But in a letter to staff, Unison regional organiser Mike Booth warned: “Even if members agreed a further package of cuts this will not avoid large numbers of redundancies being compulsorily enforced.”

Mr Booth told The Gazette he feared up to 200 jobs could be at risk.

He said: “At this stage of the budget cycle, any projections keep altering but we think there will be a shortfall of around £2.5m and that equates to about 200 jobs.”

In January staff agreed a one-year package of measures including a pay freeze and taking four days unpaid leave which helped save £2.3m and 100 jobs.

Mr Booth says the council now wants to extend the package to a second year.

He told members: “Unison will not be pressurised into any decision making, without having first had full detailed budget talks, and discussions with our Unison members.

“We believe our members expect us to negotiate on their behalf to maintain or improve terms and conditions, not to cut them.”

Cuts to this year’s budget saw the loss of 750 jobs including around 350 compulsory redundancies after the Government slashed the amount of cash it gave the council.

Further talks will now be held between Unison and town hall chiefs.

The council could not put a figure on how many jobs might be at risk.

Assistant chief executive Carmel McKeogh said: “We are currently negotiating with the unions about terms and conditions for the coming financial year. Last year staff accepted a number of changes which resulted in savings of more than £2m which helped to protect services and in turn saved 100 jobs.

“This was a fantastic gesture on their part and one that is very much appreciated by management and politicians alike.

“This year savings of up to £10m will have to be made and we are once again looking at every option of how this can be achieved including asking the staff to continue with the changes introduced last year.”

But a scheme whereby council staff are charged to park at their place of work looks set to be scrapped.

Since April this year, staff earning more than £16,830 a year have had to pay one per cent of their salary plus an annual £10 administration fee for a parking permit.

The move has saved around £300,000 but could be axed because it is too complex to control.