Hundreds more jobs will be axed in Gateshead Council cuts

JOBS will be axed as Gateshead Council becomes the latest authority to set out yet another round of cuts.

JOBS will be axed as Gateshead Council becomes the latest authority to set out yet another round of cuts.

Some £30m extra will have to come out of council spending over the next two years, the Labour-run local authority has announced. Gateshead has already spent three years axing 1,125 jobs and cutting services by £66m.

The council has not put a jobs figure on its overall cuts package, but hundreds could be lost amid a warning that compulsory redundancies might be needed.

The latest cuts are the result of an increase loss of grant announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in December.

As part of the next round of £30m cuts, the council will consider closing down libraries, though the budget document describes the “reshaping” as one which will seek to have volunteers and other groups run services.

Community centres are also likely to close, while support for museums and cultural venues will be reduced. Marketing group the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative will be handed a £70,000 cut while grants to the Baltic and Sage will be axed by £184,000.

The council proposes to close Birtley Crematorium, stop council patrols in the award-winning Saltwell Park and close down or stop support for bowling greens.

More than £270,000 will come out of the money used to pay for flooding repairs and street cleaning.

For street lights and pot holes, the council proposes to respond to complaints rather than actively looking for broken lights and damaged roads.

Another £46,000 will also be saved by ceasing to pay for any Christmas lights. Other savings include handing over the old town hall to The Sage.

Above-inflation price rises will also be passed on to residents including increased charges for car parking, cemeteries and crematoria, pest control, bulky waste collections and replacement wheelie bins.

All the suggested moves are to be consulted on and many are likely to be phased in rather than introduced in the first year of cuts.

Despite these cuts, council leader Mick Henry has said he is prepared to again freeze council tax this year.

In a statement released by the council, Mr Henry said: “Further budget reductions announced by Government in December mean that we are now facing yet more difficult decisions for the next two years.

“We’ve come a long way since we began this process in 2010, and much has changed since then.

“We’ve reduced management and the number of employees, we operate fewer buildings, we’ve made things more efficient and services are being offered differently.

“We’ve also frozen council tax and we propose to do so again. So there’ll be no increase in council tax bills at a time when rising costs and benefits are changing.

“But we must now look again at how best to provide key services, improve the borough’s future prosperity and protect the vulnerable.

“It’s impossible to do so without even more changes to the services we provide.”

The consultation can be found online at www.gateshead.gov.uk

 

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