More than 100 jobs face axe in council cutbacks

Reporter:

Matt Jones

MORE than 100 posts could go within Flintshire Council as measures to cut costs hit home.

The authority’s draft revenue and capital budgets for 2011/12 were approved by members of the executive committee yesterday.

Front-line services will be hit as £9 million worth of cuts have been found in the revenue budget, but another £2.6 million of savings needs to be found before it can be balanced and approved by the full council in March.

Library closures and increasing and rolling out car parking fees are some of the measures identified, while council tax bills could rise by three per cent.

Flintshire Council chief executive Colin Everett said the authority had not shied away from making savings in its overheads and management costs and was “well set up” to deal with spending cuts.

He said: “In the core budget, there are broadly about 100 posts which will go, some of which we have held vacant.

“We are not doing a blanket policy of voluntary redundancies; they are targeted in areas where we are looking to save money.”

Other posts funded by specific grants from outside bodies are at risk, but it is hoped a number can be protected.

Queensferry, Garden City, Bagillt, Halkyn and Gwernaffield libraries have been identified as being in a poor physical state and having low levels of use and could close, while measures to look at closing other council buildings have been proposed.

Mr Everett said: “The libraries are stand-alone, dated buildings with limited opening hours.

“Some have real public value but they are just not cost effective.

“It is the same with ageing school buildings, which we are looking to combine.

“We are talking about the whole set – from civic offices right through to school delivery.

“There will always be a good school and library network, but buildings need to be rationalised.”

Cuts are expected to continue over the next three years with emphasis being placed on efficiencies and “ambitious” plans to reduce overheads.

Mr Everett said: “We can’t shield front-line services in the whole. We are not making as drastic cuts as other councils.”

Council leader Arnold Woolley said it was “cloud cuckoo land” to think the settlement from the Welsh Assembly Government was not as bad as people thought.

He said: “We are concerned with what is in the pocket of the community. We are, I hope, a very caring authority.”

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