Council agrees to freeze allowances

PUBLISHED: 16:50 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 18:00 31 May 2010

TWENTY-two vacancies at Uttlesford District Council will be deleted in the next two months, it has been revealed. The job cuts, which the council hopes will save it more than £450,000, were announced at a meeting of the finance and administration committe

TWENTY-two vacancies at Uttlesford District Council will be deleted in the next two months, it has been revealed.

The job cuts, which the council hopes will save it more than £450,000, were announced at a meeting of the finance and administration committee on Tuesday night.

Councillors pledged that in as many cases as possible the staff affected by these redundancies would be invited to fill other vacant posts at the council, to minimise the number of employees losing their jobs.

The exact posts affected are likely to be announced in the next few days, once the relevant staff have been informed.

Introducing the meeting, Cllr Robert Chambers, committee chairman, said: "We are here on something none of us want to discuss, but are just left with

no alternative."

Cllr Chambers proposed that district councillors accepted a freeze on their current level of remuneration, saying it was the least they could do given the situation.

Although the savings achieved through this will only amount to £7000, it was considered an important gesture and the motion was unanimously agreed.

Chief executive Alasdair Bovaird acknowledged that the proposed savings would mean inevitable cuts in services, although the specifics have not yet been decided.

He said: "It's not going to be the case that we will be able to deliver the same level of services we are currently in all areas.

"However, I believe it is better to set a realistic target and then deliver to that level, than to pledge something too ambitious and then fail to deliver."

Council leader Cllr Jim Ketteridge, said the last few months had been a very tough time for everyone. He said: "I would like to thank the managers and union representatives, who have had a very difficult task," he said.

"Having to announce at the end of November that we had to take £1 million out of staff costs was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.

"However, with the way this has been approached there will be far less impact than I had originally envisaged.

"We'll set a balanced budget for next year and, by hook or by crook, there will not be an overspend in 2009. We will move on from here."

Twenty-one vacancies at the council will not be filled as part of the staffing cuts, to save more than £650,000. There are a further 16 vacancies that cannot be deleted, which it is hoped will mostly be filled by the 22 members of staff whose posts are being lost. Any necessary re-training will be provided.

Val Rogacs, Uttlesford Unison Branch chairman, said: "We're relieved councillors have made a decision. Our biggest worry was they wouldn't accept the proposals and that this would drag on.

"People will not be left waiting for long after being told they are 'at risk', so if they are facing redundancy they will be able to move on and make other plans.

"We want assurances from the council that, having gone through this painful process, we won't be faced with more cuts when the council tries to save the remaining £800,000 of the deficit.

"We're already cut to the bone. It is affecting services and it will do so increasingly in the future."

Mrs Rogacs also praised the councillors for agreeing to freeze their allowances.

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