Earlier this month, I attended a Winchester City Council Cabinet meeting where imminent changes to job reduction and the structure of the organisation were discussed.
Due to the Local Government Act, the question I put to the Liberal Democrat Cabinet asking for an update on future job losses within the council could not be answered as Leader Cllr Kelsie Learney deemed it exempt business to discuss it in the public domain.
The obvious reason for this, for example, is that a potential redundancy remains an extremely sensitive issue on behalf of the person involved.
Back in September this year the council announced it had planned to shed around 70 jobs in the next three years to plug a £2.4 million shortfall in their salary budget.
Council Chief Executive Simon Eden provided me with a written response to my question a week or so after the meeting.
At the end of September this year Mr Eden told me the Personnel Committee approved consultation on “six redundancies”. In addition he said “two vacant posts are to be deleted”, and there is to be “one early retirement”. Also one member of staff will be redeployed into another post in the opening round of changes.
In November, a further report went to the same committee and it disclosed “eight vacant posts be deleted and nine posts be put at risk of redundancy”. It also stated one new position will be created, and one current post will be redeployed into a new area.
These figures highlight a net loss of seventeen posts within the council across the two committee reports. But the city council remain on course to implement as fewer redundancies as possible.
With the national coalition public sector cuts forcing a devastating impact on local government, Winchester is more set than most to combat the cuts when they fall, nonetheless more jobs will be going in the future.
Mr Eden added the reductions in staff will fall across both back and front office posts, though he ruled out it would have a disconcerting impact on public service.
The reality of the coalition government’s plans to make cutbacks across the board has hit home but the question is whether or not they have arrived all too soon?
Undoubtedly with a deficit to fill in an untenable economical climate, money has to be saved from the public purse in the most challenging of times. 2011 will go a long way in finding out if this decision was justified.