Darlington Council: Job threat staff face 'terrifying time'

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Darlington Council staff face a "terrifying time" as the authority prepares for "significant" job cuts, a senior councillor has warned.

The Labour-led council is cutting £17.9m from its annual budget of about £107m by 2017 and has already shed 500 of its 2,700-strong workforce.

Union bosses have called on the council to avoid compulsory redundancies.

But council leader Bill Dixon warned further job cuts were unavoidable as wages accounted for 80% of the budget.

The authority is also planning to scrap weekly refuse collections and increase council tax by 2% next year.

'Constant threat'

Mr Dixon said: "It is a terrifying time for people working for the council.

"This comes on the back of a four-year pay freeze and their bills have risen as well as everybody else's. They are under constant threat of job losses.

"None of the decisions we have to make are easy and comes at the end of three years of cut after cut after cut.

"We've talked to the unions and have already shed some 500 jobs since 2010.

"We are not yet sure how many jobs will go as part of this package, but something like 80% of the spend of local government is on staff so there will be significant redundancies in the budget once we've got it finalised."

A spokesman for the public sector union Unison said: "The council now seems to be pinning its hopes on goodwill and volunteers.

"We expect the council to do everything it can to ensure there are no more compulsory redundancies."

A public consultation on the council's proposals is under way.

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