Jobs at risk as council battles to balance the books

By Rob George Thursday 06 December 2012 Updated: 07/12 09:43

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Leader Simon Geraghty said the city council was facing tough choices . (s)

ABOUT seven percent of Worcester City Council's workforce could be axed and the running of some services including rubbish collections handed over to other providers in a bid to plug a £690,000 funding gap.

Council leader Simon Geraghty (Con, St Clement's) revealed the proposals this week which form part of the city council's draft budget for the coming financial year.

The council is facing tough choices as it tries to balance the books in the face of a cut in the amount of funding it receives from the Government.

Council tax will be frozen for the third year running but Coun Geraghty said decisions had to be made about delivering the best value for money for residents.

A total of 26 of the 350 posts at the council will be removed over the next two years although Coun Geraghty said some of these positions were currently vacant and would not be filled, while those facing redundancy could be redeployed within the council.

Revenues and benefits, waste collections and grounds maintenance, sports centres and the running of the city's museums could also be taken on by private firms or other bodies as part of a 'commissioning' process.

The review of these services is expected to last 18 months and will see the council decide on whether to outsource them to the private or voluntary sector, set up a shared service with another public sector body, transfer it to a community body or continue to run it in-house.

Coun Geraghty said the running of the proposed £13million new swimming pool at Perdiswell could also be handed over to a private company.

A pot of £900,000 due to be received from the New Homes Bonus scheme will help fund projects such as affordable housing and major building developments.

"The New Homes Bonus is a reward for development and we want to keep that for investment in the city and not to prop up the council's finances," he said.

"I believe it's possible to make Worcester great even in these austere times but it's also vitally important to take a long term view."

The budget proposals will be examined in detail before members of the council vote on whether to support them in February.

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