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22 October 2010, 06:09
The belt tightening begins in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire as police and public bodies seek to live in straightened times.
Hertfordshire County Council say they will have to axe around 1000 jobs. In a statement to heart, the County Council say "With staffing making up such a large percentage of our costs, it would not have been possible to meet our savings target of £150m and prioritise frontline services without reducing the number of employees.
There will be at least a 10% reduction in staffing numbers across the organisation (excluding schools) over the next three years. We will be ensuring that any job losses will have as little impact as possible on frontline services.
To keep the number of compulsory redundancies down to a minimum, some employees aged 55 or over have been offered early retirement on or before 30 October 2010. No additional payments are being made by the council, beyond what is available from the Local Government Pension Scheme, to staff taking early retirement."
Immediately after the Chancellor's Spending Review statement, Robert Gordon, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "The Spending Review is pretty much along the lines we were expecting and have been planning for - although the reduction in central government grants looks as if it might be rather higher than previously assumed. However, as reduction will be phased in by four equal instalments over four years (rather than three), it will give us more time to plan for the later years' savings ."
Chair of Hertfordshire Police Authority , Stuart Nagler told heart "The Police Authority and the Constabulary have well-developed plans in anticipation of these cuts and remain committed to serving the communities of Hertfordshire. We have been planning that Hertfordshire will have to budget for a funding shortfall of about £40m over the next four years".
"Now that the Government has made the announcement for Police service funding, we will be refining our spending projections over the coming weeks, particularly once we receive Hertfordshire’s funding settlement in late November/early December ."
What about the future - Mr Naglar told heart: "However, Hertfordshire is better placed than many other forces to deal with the difficulties ahead. We have a strong track record of efficiency savings and innovative working. We are national leaders in collaboration and already share a wide range of services with Bedfordshire Police and other forces and agencies. This includes joint Major Crime, Scientific Support Services and Firearms. This work has now been given even greater priority and, together with internal restructuring, such as the move to a single Local Policing Command, and reductions in police overtime, it will help offset the budget deficit."
Chief Constable Frank Whiteley said: “The scale of the required savings is such that it is necessary to drive out cost savings across all areas of the Force and to challenge many of the existing approaches to service delivery.
“Despite these financial challenges, our Force continues to be consistently recognised as a well-performing and efficient organisation and every effort will be made to ensure these high standards are maintained .”
Richard Howitt MEP has hit out at the cuts in Bedfordshire - telling heart "The cuts are too hard and are coming too fast claimed the county’s Euro MP Richard Howitt today speaking out after the Comprehensive Spending Review cuts were announced. The cuts are unnecessary economically and put the economic recovery in Bedfordshire at risk as well as being socially divisive. "
Richard Howitt MEP said: “We already know that Bedford Borough Council is cutting 200 jobs. Bedfordshire police face a £4 million cut leading to fears of rising crime and less police out on the street and that some Bedford Borough Council leisure facilities will close earlier.
“There is nothing fair about these cuts. Today’s announcement on housing means Bedfordshire tenants will live in fear. In one of the most unaffordable places to buy or rent in the country, council tenants will be placed on 'flexible tenancies' with councils checking whether a change in circumstances mean they can stay in their home or will be moved on. But circumstances change all the time – and if you are going through a divorce or bereavement in the family you could find yourself on the streets."
Central Bedfordshire Council have told heart at least 100 jobs will go. Councillor Maurice Jones is the resources portfolio holder at the council - and says "its across the council - all departments will be affected, it's right across the board. These are jobs we've only just identified, not jobs we've previously declared redundant".
The belt tightening begins in Milton Keynes and across Bucks as police and public bodies seek to live in straightened times.
Sam Crooks, Deputy Leader of Milton Keynes Council told heart "I think the best way to put it - is it's a slight worsening of our position, but it's a manageable. We think we're about a £1m worse off on our revenue budget (day-to-day spending), but we're also around £1m worse off on our capital expenditure - which for a growing city is very worrying.
We were modelling around 25% cuts, but after the Comprehensive Spending Review, we now know it's more likely to be 27% - and that means we'll have to look for savings of around £64m over 4 years ."
MK Council is evaluating potential job-cuts, it could lead to 600 positions being lost.
David Shakespeare, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council , said: "I appreciate there has been a great deal of interest ahead of the Coalition Government's much-anticipated spending review. This is a significant review, which will continue the job of tackling Labour's legacy of an unprecedented national deficit. The last Government ran up huge debts on our behalf and the amount of money we have all got to pay back is simply frightening.
"There will be implications for us all, but today's announcement will have touched on the headline figures only. It will take weeks and months to drill down and fully understand how this review will impact on Buckinghamshire residents, and as this information becomes available we will be keeping people informed. At Buckinghamshire we have not had our heads in the sand but have been planning for bad news through greater efficiencies and cuts we've made in our budgets. In the meantime, we will press ahead with our budget, planning prudently and always in the best interests of our taxpayers."
BCC is looking at the implications of having £31m less to spend over the next three years. Taking into account the £9.2m cut in August's Emergency Budget, which addressed service pressures and a reduction in the County's Government-funded Area Based Grant, and £52m already saved through efficiencies and Transformation, the County's total budget reduction over a 4-year period will reach £93m.