Jobs losses to protect services

North Tyneside Council's Quadrant headquarters.
North Tyneside Council's Quadrant headquarters.

More than 150 jobs could be cut as council bosses deal with the continued pressure of government cuts in funding.

North Tyneside Council is looking to make £14m of savings in its 2015-16 budget, with one initiative being a more efficient management structure and 160 job losses.

But officials say it is unlikely any compulsory redundancies will be required, with the losses coming through natural wastage and voluntary redundancies.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said that as a result of the savings, the council is able to protect frontline services with no key facility being considered for closure.

She said: “We have been listening to the people and addressing their concerns.

“We won’t be closing any libraries or leisure centres. Over the last two years, attendance at leisure centres have been increasing.

“With the level of cuts imposed on the council, not all services can continue in their present form.

“However, this budget seeks to protect those services residents have told me are important to them.”

Coun Bruce Pickard, deputy mayor, added: “We started re-organising the council last year.

“We said there is no more than six layers for frontline services and four layers for other services. That is one of the biggest savings in the council.

“We are looking at 160 proposed job cuts. We’ve introduced an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme and had well over 100 people apply.

“Last year, out of the 150 job cuts, only eight were compulsory.”

Mrs Redfearn added: “We’re a public service. We have to think about what’s important to the people we’re serving. That is education, care and living in an environment that is decent.

“As a listening Mayor, in presenting this budget I have taken into account the issues raised and the hardship being experienced by many residents of North Tyneside.”

The final budget, being presented to full council tonight (Thursday), will see a freeze on council tax levels for the third year running.

Weekly bin collections, fortnightly recycling and the free garden waste collection are also being maintained.

There will also be more investment in roads and pavements, progress on the regeneration of the seafront and Whitley Bay, continuing development on the Swans site on the riverside in Wallsend, and more affordable homes built.

And Mrs Redfearn said it was work on Whitley Bay seafront and the former Swan Hunters site she was looking forward to progressing the most, as it would mean they could then start work on improving North Shields town centre.

She said: “I desperately want to get on with Whitley Bay and Wallsend so we can get on with North Shields.”