Council looks to cut 200 jobs from £20m in savings

Mayor Norma Redfearn.
Mayor Norma Redfearn.

Up to 200 jobs could go as North Tyneside Council looks to make £20m of savings in its next budget.

Cabinet members are set to agree at their meeting on Monday to take discussions over the 2014-15 budget out to consultation with residents.

Among the proposals by the local authority is to cut up to 200 jobs by December 2014, with 30 jobs being in management as Mayor Norma Redfearn looks to introduce a new ‘streamlined’ structure, helping to save £2.7m.

Three directors and two heads of senior posts have been cut, with the eight remaining heads of service being led by new chief executive Patrick Melia and deputy chief executive Paul Hanson.

Mrs Redfearn says no frontline services will be lost as the council looks to make £64m of savings over four years, starting with £20m in 2014-15.

There will be no increase in council tax, but the cost of school meals and Meals on Wheels are expected to rise in line with inflation.

Mrs Redfearn said: “We’re not insensitive to people’s needs. We know how difficult it is for people out there, which is why we are not putting up council tax this year.”

Mrs Redfearn said it is hoped the majority of savings would come from changing the way the council is run by bringing services together.

“We want to try to bring this council into the 21st century,” she said.

“Frontline services are really important. That’s why we’re looking at the whole council as to how it works and how it best operates.

“There are ways we can restructure to save money which can be reinvested.

“Our commitment is to make sure the council works smarter and is innovative in how it delivers services.”

The council is pushing ahead with plans to build more homes and attracting more businesses, in particular to Quorum and Cobalt business parks and the former Swan Hunter site.

But to do that, Mrs Redfearn said that people needed to be given the skills employers are looking for.

“Last week I had a meeting with housebuilders and they know there is going to be a surge on house building, they are stocking up on bricks, but they say there is a shortage of skills – bricklayers, plasterers and plumbers.”

Mrs Redfearn said the budget would also include money to regenerate areas of the borough as well as bringing derelict buildings either back into use or demolishing them to make way for new builds.

Mr Melia said the financial pressures were the result of a 25 per cent decrease in funding from the Coalition government, with £10m earmarked for north east councils this year being given to their south east counterparts.

“This requires a serious review of how local government works and operates,” he said. “We do find new ways of becoming more efficient or how people access our services.”