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Camden New Journal - by RICHARD OSLEY
Published 5 October 2006
Cllr Janet GraubergJanet Grauberg
Council can’t rule out redundancies

Town Hall plans to slash spending by 5%

THE Town Hall has refused to rule out compulsory redundancies after drawing up plans to slash five per cent on council staff spending.
Opposition Labour councillors have warned that frontline services must not suffer as the new Lib Dem and Conservative partnership administration battles to meet its election pledge to freeze council tax.
They also warned that staff morale and confidence could be dented by the cost-cutting drive.
Unions warned yesterday (Wednesday) they would fight any forced redundancies.
Lib Dem finance chief Councillor Janet Grauberg has ordered council bosses to find £14 million worth of savings, including £7.5 million on cash spent on employment.
Officially, the savings drive has been given the buzz term ‘workforce remodelling’ and comes after management consultants KPMG combed the council for possible changes. Another jargon term that has been given to the project is ‘management de-layering’ where the council will cut the number of managers.
Council treasurer Mike O’Donnell told a finance committee meeting on Tuesday: “I don’t want to pretend that we can do all of this without compulsory redundancies.”
Despite being pressed on the issue by Labour councillors at the meeting and by journalists in a budget press briefing on Monday, neither elected councillors nor department chiefs have been willing to put a figure on the number of jobs on the line.
Instead, they claim most of the posts will be cut through axing agency staff and voluntary departures. Mr O’Donnell said the cuts did not represent a five per cent drop in the staff headcount but a five per cent in the amount total spent on employment. He also said that the council would have to be wary of being left with large redundancy and severance settlements.
The cuts have already seen Borough Solicitor Alison Lowton take early retirement after her post was deleted in the shake-up last month.
Labour leader Councillor Anna Stewart said: “We have to be careful that we do not lose our best officers. There is a danger that morale could drop. We want Camden to be a place where the best officers want to work and stay.”
She said during the uncertainty over positions the number of sick days had gone up.
Cllr Stewart added: “We would have concerns if frontline services were adversely affected.”
Union chiefs said there was no need for compulsory redundancies.
David Eggmore, from Camden Unison, said: “We would completely object to the council even considering compulsory redundancies. It would be completely unjustified given the council’s current financial position.”
Chief executive Moira Gibb said that staff were “understandably anxious” but being kept informed of the proposals and possible changes.
She added: “There isn’t an actual figure on redundancies. It is more about looking at where we might be using agency staff where we might not need to.”
Cllr Grauberg said: “There are difficult decisions to take but if we take them now it will give us the chance to meet our priorities for now and in the future. We think this plan is manageable. We are committed to a freeze on council tax next year.”
Budget negotiations will continue until early next year when the final finance plan is confirmed.
Conservative deputy leader Councillor Andrew Marshall said his party’s side of the alliance was just as happy with the deal.
He said: “We are on track to ensure we provide high-quality services in Camden, at a cost that residents perceive as better value for money now, and in the future.”


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