St Albans council facing 25 per cent jobs loss

ALL staff at St Albans district council have been told they have the option of applying for voluntary redundancy or early retirement as part of public sector manpower cuts.

Previously principal officers had been given that option but the council has now extended expressions of interest to the remaining staff as it sets up a different operating structure with new and fewer jobs.

The council, which has 409 full and part-time employees, has admitted that potentially it will have to reduce in size by 25 per cent in the light of the requirement to cut 26 per cent in local authority spending following last week’s comprehensive spending review announcement.

But it has yet to learn what its annual Local Government Finance Settlement, due in early December, will be which could find the council having to make further cuts.

In addition, as county council services will also be affected, there will need to be clarification of the impact as a whole on the local community.

Council leader, Cllr Robert Donald, said it would be some weeks yet before the authority knew what reductions would have to be made in next year’s budget and the effect of savings.

Next week’s meeting of the cabinet will look at the draft budget proposals for 2011/12 and will be prioritising the statutory and non-statutory services that are most important to residents.

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Cllr Donald went on: “Some restructuring of the council will now have to occur. Inevitably downsizing of the organisation will also be required, potentially reducing the size of the council by 25 per cent.

“We will try to do this by deletion of vacant posts, non-renewal of short term contracts, voluntary redundancies and early retirement.

“Some compulsory redundancies are likely to be unavoidable. These will be kept to a minimum.”

He said a full assessment of the comprehensive spending review announcements about future provision of social housing and housing finance would be commissioned to report to cabinet initially by Christmas.

And he would be seeking a meeting with the leader and chief executive of the county council to ensure as much fairness as possible in the way they approached reductions to community services and appropriate working with themselves and other other partners.

He added: “The biggest impact of the comprehensive spending review for our communities is likely to be as a result of reductions in county council services.”