Over 150 jobs to go at City Council

Nottingham City Council's Loxley House HQ

Proposals to make over 150 job cuts at Nottingham City Council have been approved by its Executive Board, along with a raft of other cuts aimed at saving £12.5m a year.

The cuts come after what the ruling Labour group on the council called a “failure” by the Government to cover the costs incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, opposition leaders have pointed to the fact that the Council continues to fund the loss-making utilities company Robin Hood Energy and has admitting spending £17m on the failed intu Broadmarsh redevelopment.

The Council says it has seen estimated costs and lost income due to Covid-19 soar to £87.9m since the pandemic began. Emergency funding has been needed to care for older and vulnerable people and provide PPE while at the same time income has income has been lost from leisure centres, trade waste services, car parks and many other areas.

Nottingham has only received £19.8m plus a further £3.7m confirmed as part of tranche 3 of extra funding so far, just 27% of the total cost of Covid-19.

A range of emergency savings proposals were approved for consultation by the Council’s Executive Board, including:

– Day Centres – closing one day centre for people with disabilities while maintaining access to a day centre for all users

– Apprentices – delaying the employment of apprentices until next April, saving £450,000 in total.

– On street parking machines – replacing most parking machines with cashless machines, promoting pay by phone and card payments

– Parking permits – introducing charge of £25 for households requesting a third residents parking permit, renewable every two years

– Civic roles – reducing the ceremonial duties of the Lord Mayor

– Bulwell Hall Golf Course – closing the course from November and seek an external operator

– Play Areas – closing a small number of underused play areas and those requiring “significant improvement”

Councillors say they have prioritised services for the most vulnerable residents, protected free universal services such as bulky waste collections, a free garden waste bin and two free resident parking permits and defended parks, community centres, libraries, care services and leisure centres.

Councillor Sam Webster, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “The current crisis has seen Nottingham’s key workers step up when they were needed most. Thousands of our front line, key workers are employed directly or indirectly by Nottingham City Council; care workers, bus drivers, bin lorry crews, meal-on-wheels service, Community Protection Officers, park rangers and many, many more.

“These people have helped us through the crisis, they’ve kept our vital services running and helped to protect our most vulnerable residents, we couldn’t have come this far without them.

“I’m shocked at how appallingly badly the Government is treating communities across the country at this time of need. Our key workers are being massively let down by the Government’s failure to deliver on its clear promise to fully cover the costs of Covid.

“We are having to put forward some extremely difficult proposals today, but we’ve been determined to protect universal free services for our residents where possible and we’ve prioritised those services upon which our most vulnerable residents rely, including care services for older people and employment support for young people who find themselves out of work.

“Covid comes on top of ten years of Government funding cuts to our City. We receive over £100m less each year to fund local services than we did ten years ago. Our ability to cope financially has been severely affected by austerity. Councils up and down the country are needed now more than ever to help our areas recover from the severe health, social and economic impacts of Covid, but to respond we need adequate resources.

“The clear message to Government from Nottingham is to honour our key workers and our communities by funding the costs of Covid as was promised.”

The leader of the minority Conservative Group on the Council, however, has slammed the city leaders for two investments it sees as failures.

Councillor Andrew Rule said: “We are still awaiting a final calculation from the Government in terms of what the Council will receive in terms of mitigation for lost income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Alas it is clear is that the funding the Council provided to Robin Hood Energy coupled with the money it failed protect in the Broadmarsh Scheme would have provided much needed relief to the current pressures it now finds itself in and would have provided an interim relief whilst the final support package from the Government comes through.”

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