Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council cuts may put 340 jobs at risk

Up to 340 jobs are under threat as Wiltshire Council aims to save £4m from staffing costs over the next year.

The plan for a "council-wide voluntary redundancy programme" was revealed ahead of a cabinet meeting next week.

Conservative council leader Jane Scott said a final decision had not been made.

But Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Hubbard said he was "shocked" by the scale of the cuts being revealed "10 days from polling day".

Over the last three years, the unitary authority has made 630 redundancies.

Now the Conservative-led authority is proposing to axe up to 340 full-time posts by offering "all staff" the option of applying for redundancy.

'Not new news'

"We have protected certain roles and we won't be looking for people like social workers and people like that going," said Ms Scott.

"What we will try and do is to take them from back office support rather than front line staff because our aim continually is to keep those front line services going."

The Conservatives retained overall control of the council at the local elections on 2 May.

But Ms Scott insists the latest round of redundancies was not "new news" as £4m in savings had been set out in the budget in February.

"We said it would equate to around 200 jobs, obviously with voluntary redundancy you never know how many posts," she said.

"And it would have been absurd when we didn't know the outcome of the election for officers to ask us to make a decision which could have been reversed by another administration."

'Shocked'

Mr Hubbard, said he was getting "desperately worried" about the scale of the cuts and their impact on council services.

"Earlier in the year Jane [Ms Scott] gave clear assurances that we would be looking at cutbacks of around 200 positions, now we're looking at 340 full-time equivalent," he said.

"We've seen job after job after job being cut from the council and there's only so much "waste" that can be cut back before we start seeing a very real impact on front line services."

If approved, an informal consultation process will be launched at the end of May with a voluntary redundancy programme rolled out mid-June.

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