Union fear over Middlesbrough Council £12.8m cuts

Ray Mallon
Image caption Mayor Ray Mallon said it was a "very difficult time" for Middlesbrough

Union members say they are "frightened" about proposed cost-cutting measures announced by Middlesbrough Council.

About 120 council jobs face the axe and libraries and sports facilities are under threat as part of a bid to save £12.8m over the coming year.

No final decision has been taken, and residents can comment on the options during a six-week public consultation.

Janet Gregg from Unison said the cuts were "very savage".

Middlesbrough Council, which has a Labour majority but is led by Independent mayor Ray Mallon, claims it must save a total of £50m over the next four years, which could see job losses rising to a total of 500 by 2015.

Ray Mallon said: "This is a very difficult time and I have been speaking to lots of people recently and every single person has got one thing in common; they're telling me that their initiative is the most important initiative in Middlesbrough.

"If I took notice of everybody we wouldn't cut anything and we would go bankrupt."

Most vulnerable

The latest savings are on top of £15m already identified for the current financial year.

The authority, which employs about 10,000 people, said it faced an 8.8% cut in government grants.

Janet Gregg from Unison said: "We are very, very upset about the level of cuts that have been proposed.

"They are very savage and will affect the most vulnerable people in Middlesbrough and we are very concerned about that as a trade union.

"Members are frightened and concerned. There is pain going to be felt... but it seems to be the most vulnerable who are having to pay the price."

Unison says it is prepared to work with the council to try and avoid as many compulsory redundancies as possible and look at the possibility of an alternative budget.

The union said it was "too early to say" if there would be industrial action.

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