Jobs axe falls in £14m cuts

Blackpool Town Hall.
Blackpool Town Hall.
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TOWN hall chiefs approved more than £14m worth of cuts and the loss of 300 jobs as they met to set Blackpool’s budget for the coming year.

The ruling Labour executive accused the Government – which has slashed its funding to local authorities – of not caring about the impact the cuts would have on ordinary people’s lives, and warned towns in the north of England were suffering worst.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn, last night, said the spending reduction was equivalent to £157 per Blackpool resident, but in some authorities in the south, cuts represented only £10 per head.

He said: “The decisions we have had to make will have a huge impact on people’s jobs and lives, and the quality of the services we are able to offer the people of Blackpool. None of these decisions have been taken lightly. What we have before us is as fair as we can make it.”

But Coun Blackburn said the way councils were being forced to make cuts was wrong.

He said: “We have made strong representations to Government about the way it’s being handled and that the burden has been placed on local authorities like Blackpool – deprived, urban, northern councils.

“We are seeing huge increases of resources to the South East.”

Coun Blackburn claimed the New Homes Bonus, through which the Government will match the council tax raised on each new house built for six years, favoured towns in the south which had more building land and a more buoyant housing market.

He added: “We are seeing a transfer of resources south. The regional differences are clear when you see the cuts we are having to make here in Blackpool add up to £157 per person, but in some places in the south it is less than £10 per head.”

Coun Blackburn is hoping to confront Communities Secretary Eric Pickles on the issue when he travels to London next week for a Local Government Association Parliamentary reception.

The executive agreed savings totalling £14.1m meaning 300 council jobs will be lost, with around 50 compulsory redundancies anticipated and 60 voluntary redundancies.

The remaining roles will be lost through contracts ending, the abolition of vacant roles and natural wastage.

The town hall’s portion of the council tax is set to be frozen, making it £1,516 for an average Band D property.

Before the budget is finalised, it will go before a meeting of the full council on February 26.