Newcastle and Gateshead councils shed 1,600 jobs

Gateshead protesters Unions warned the cuts were just the beginning

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More than 1,600 local government jobs are to be axed in Newcastle and Gateshead.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday it was agreed Newcastle City Council would save £44.1m in 2011/12 and shed more than 600 posts.

On Thursday, Gateshead council announced it would cut 1,000 jobs and make savings of £32m in 2011/2012.

Protesters gathered outside Gateshead council on Thursday campaigning against the government cuts.

Branch secretary of union Unison, Terry Edwards, said the people who needed the services the most would be the hardest hit.

He said: "There will be 1,000 less jobs in Gateshead on 1 April after these cuts and for the following year there will be another £30m that has to be saved, which means more jobs and more cuts.

"This is just the start of the process and it will only get worse."

But leader of Gateshead council, Mick Henry, said it would be making no compulsory redundancies.

He said 800 were voluntary redundancies and 200 were vacant posts.

'Significant impact'

He admitted some services would be streamlined at the Labour-led authority but added there was a "strong sense of team approach" among those staff staying at the council.

He said: "These are the most severe cuts in the history of this council. Gateshead is losing more than £88 for every man, woman and child in the borough, a quarter of our annual net budget.

"This will have a significant impact on everything we do and residents will see changes to the services that they access."

Start Quote

There will be changes to the way that some of those services will be delivered but they will be maintained ”

End Quote Cllr David Faulkner Leader of Newcastle City Council

Gateshead council currently employs 7,000 staff, excluding teachers. Its 2010/2011 budget was £232m.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Newcastle's Liberal Democrat-controlled council pledged to protect frontline services and invest an extra £7m over the next three years in roads and footpaths.

The council's 2010/2011 budget was £296m. It currently employs 10,500 staff, excluding teachers.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Councillor David Faulkner, said: "We have had to take some tough decisions but I believe that despite the huge challenges we face we have passed a budget that balances the need to make savings while protecting vital services.

"There will be changes to the way that some of those services will be delivered but they will be maintained and the council will continue to build on its success."

He said extra support would also be given to vulnerable children and adults.

Both councils agreed to freeze council tax.

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