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Mayor Linda Arkley makes pledge over North Tyneside Council budget

THE leader of North Tyneside Council has said she will not follow Newcastle's "slash and burn" approach as she seeks to cut spending by £12m.

featurNorth Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley

THE leader of North Tyneside Council has said she will not follow Newcastle's "slash and burn" approach as she seeks to cut spending by £12m.

Conservative elected mayor Linda Arkley has said that she intends to “get on with the job” as she becomes the latest council leader to announce further cuts.

Over the next year as many as 250 jobs could go, although the council said it expects this figure to reduce over the course of the budget.

North Tyneside’s £12m cuts follow £32m of savings over the last three years which saw the council privatise large sections of the workforce.

Such a move could be repeated, on a smaller scale, as the council once again looks at bringing in outside firms to run services.

As with other Tyneside councils some libraries will be closed, the mayor said, though this comes alongside newly built facilities being opened.

Mrs Arkley said: “We are going to be making further savings but I think these are moderate when you consider what is happening elsewhere.

“If you look at the overall picture here we will not be doing what they have done in Newcastle, where they seem to have decided to go for a mixture of slash and burn and grandstanding over things. We’re not going to do that.

“We can get on with it, there will be some unfortunate decisions need taking but we all have to cope with this and get on.”

Newcastle faces £100m of cuts over three years, though more than half of this is the result of rising costs pressures including a £10m redundancy bill.

Mrs Arkley added: “There will be job losses but even though we have indicated it will be 250, that will almost certainly come down. In the last round we said 300 and got that down to nearly double figures and I expect we will try just as hard this time.”

Mrs Arkley said that part of her ability to keep the cuts down was the decision to bring in Capita Symonds and Balfour Beatty to deliver some services in multi-million pound contracts.

The firms have since hired additional staff and it is hoped those losing their job at the council will stand a good chance of further employment with the private firms.

“We want to build on that,” Mrs Arkley said. “It will not be to the same scale, but if you look at, say, the golf course, we own the land but it’s not run by us, and we can do more of that.”

Asked if libraries will be closed she said: “They will close. We have new joint centres services opening such as in Whitley Bay with libraries and contact centres under one roof, and when that opens we will knock down the old library, and that will happen elsewhere.”

The council said there will be no reduction in grass cutting or planting and efficiencies will instead be achieved by opting for more energy-efficient lighting. This will not involve street lighting being switched off.

 

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