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Axe falls on council jobs

PUBLISHED: 14:53 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:26 23 August 2010

COUNCIL staff have been told jobs must be axed in preparation for government cutbacks. A draft budget due to go before cabinet predicts Gravesham Borough Council must make a saving of £2 million over the next three years through job losses and reorganisi

COUNCIL staff have been told jobs must be axed in preparation for government cutbacks.

A draft budget due to go before cabinet predicts Gravesham Borough Council must make a saving of £2 million over the next three years through job losses and reorganising how services are performed.

In total, the council expects to cut 66 positions, in addition to 50 roles already removed in the past three years.

Cheryl Russell, director of operations, predicted the majority will come through retirements rather than redundancies.

She said: "Of those fifty there were only three redundancies and we are looking at single figures here."

Wages for remaining staff will also be frozen for the coming year.

The move has been made in anticipation of a huge cut to the council's government funding, which provides 65 per cent of Gravesham's overall budget.

"We have to accept that whoever comes into power in May will have to make cuts," said Mike Snelling, leader of the council.

"We are expecting something like a ten per cent cut in the next financial year (2010/11) and then five per cent cuts the following two years."

Despite these issues, the council actually plans to reduce its increase in council tax from 4.9 per cent last year to 2.5 per cent this year.

This will represent an average council tax rise of £4.06 for band D property owners.

Mr Snelling explained that the government has lowered the amount councils can increase their tax by from five per cent to three

The council felt that only 2.5 per cent would be needed, he said.

In particular he pointed to the importance of improving IT in reducing costs.

"We remain determined to preserve frontline services to the public while achieving a balanced budget.

We shall continue to manage the council's finances deftly to ensure that we continue to give value for money in what is a difficult time for everyone," he said.

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