Thirty council jobs are set for the chop

UP TO 30 jobs are set for the axe at Rother District Council in a bid to save a further £1million.

Government funding of the council has been slashed by almost a quarter since the Coalition came to power.

Figures seen by the Observer earlier this week show that by 2015 the amount of money given to the local authority by central government will be 23.4 per cent lower than the amount it received in 2010.

And the council confirmed it will shed between 20 and 30 jobs after a recent bout of consultation in a bid to save £1million.

The jobs earmarked for the chop will be discussed at a council meeting next week but the restructuring is anticipated to go ahead as planned.

It follows a previous round of job cuts two years ago which saw 30 roles lost.

And the bad news is Rother District Council leader Carl Maynard believes the actual total cut in funding will be more than the 23.4 per cent estimate.

Speaking to the Observer he said: “I think that is a conservative estimate and it may end up being more.

“We have been very clear and open in terms of how we have dealt with cuts. What we have done is plan ahead to try and lessen the impact on local people. There will come a time though in the next two years where people will notice a change. Our challenge is to continue to be innovative about the way we provide services.”

Part of that approach, according to Cllr Maynard, is to continue to work in partnership with both other local authorities and the voluntary sector. An existing share waste management deal, for example, will eventually result in tens of millions of pounds in savings for tax payers across East Sussex. Partnerships with groups like the Citizens Advice Bureau and other charitable organisations could be strengthened further.

Compulsory redundancies at the town hall had previously been avoided and Cllr Maynard said they would be kept to a minimum in the future.

He also said the Rother administration had been proactive in addressing future funding issues by economising where it could in anticipation of the cuts, although he admitted finding more areas within the local authority to cut back would be increasingly challenging.

In fact, he went as far as to suggest Rother had been somewhat of a victim of its own success.

“We already have less staff and less Council Tax than other councils in East Sussex,” he revealed, “and when compared to other public bodies, I don’t think we have any fat left to trim.”

On a positive note Cllr Maynard did point to schemes like the Bexhill Hastings Link Road as proof that the area had not been abandoned and left to its own devices by government.

The £100million plus scheme would, he said, prove a wise investment and create new job opportunities for people living locally.

And he added that the pressure to make savings had led to some beneficial changes in practice – using the closer working procedures between neighbouring councils as an example.

“It will be a challenge,” Cllr Maynard conceded, “but with such a high level of national debt I imagine the government will expect local councils to play their part.

“We will though, as ever, look to provide local people with the best possible services.”

Other councils in East Sussex have been hit with similar dips in funding.

By 2015 nearby Hastings will have suffered a mammoth 34.7 per cent cut and Eastbourne a Rother-matching 23.4 per cent.

Not all authorities have to weather such a drastic fall however.

Lewes has dropped 18.3 per cent while Wealden will have to negotiate a far less savage 14.5 per cent reduction.