December 5 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 21, 2013
Borough chiefs are set to save £12,000 a year by stopping providing staff with free tea and coffee.
It is one of a raft of cost-cutting measures due to be discussed by Ipswich council over the next few weeks as the authority struggles to cut about 10% of its budget.
Other proposals set to come under the microscope are transferring the Tourist Information Centre from St Stephen’s Church to the Town Hall (saving £40,000 a year), holding elections every four years rather than every year (saving £100,000) and cutting the number of councillors from three to two a ward (saving £55,000).
The proposals are among a number of ideas being discussed by councillors in private meetings over the next few weeks.
Borough leader David Ellesmere accepted that the authority was facing some tough choices next year – but said the proposals were simply ideas put forward by officers at this stage of the budget process.
He insisted that the drinks bill for staff would be fully discussed, but added: “I think most businesses provide tea and coffee for staff.”
With about 600 staff at Grafton House, the £12,000 cost works out an average of about £20 a year for each of them.
Mr Ellsemere said: “We are expecting to have to make savings of about 10% but we won’t know for certain until the New Year because the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will not come until shortly before Christmas.
“We have asked officers to come up with savings of 20% to give us flexibility when making decisions.”
It is though unlikely that the tourist centre will move – it has been on the agenda of these meetings for several years and the council has a lease on the church that has several years to run.
However some of the proposals are likely to go through.
Opposition Conservative leader Chris Stewart said he would back moves to shift to four-yearly elections and to cutting the number of councillors.
He said: “Not before time. Councillors need to be able to get on with demonstrating that they are worth electing and that will not be achieved while they spend so much of each year at the theatre of election.”
Liberal Democrat leader Andrew Cann was surprised that the borough still provided tea and coffee for staff:
“I thought that was something that was ended years ago – I can see no reason for spending £12,000 a year on this,” he said. “But it would be wrong to close the TIC – and I don’t think it would be possible anyway because of the lease.”