County jobs bill rises as hundreds recruited

SUFFOLK: As counties across the region are losing jobs, it emerged today that Suffolk’s workforce has increased by 500 over the last year.

The number includes 270 taken on to run the new children’s centres - a scheme fully funded by central government.

But a further 230 posts have been created at Endeavour House - in services ranging from adult care to environment and transport and resource management (deciding which departments get the money).

The figures were unearthed by the opposition Liberal Democrats who compared this year’s budget with previous years.

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw these figures.

“If we look more closely we see that the increase in staff in service offices has gone up by nearly 100, Now service offices, surely they aren’t frontline staff.”

Council deputy leader Jane Storey presented the budget and said the increases were in line with the council’s “Securing the Future” project which was launched in 2007 with the aim of improving council efficiency.

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She said some of the increasing numbers was to better serve the increasing number of older people needing county council services.

She said: “We are investing in the service improvements and remain a very efficient local authority.”

During the debate councillors approved the budget which will see the county element of council tax bills - about two thirds of the total - increase by just 2.4 per cent next year.

Mrs Storey said this was the smallest increase ever seen at the county council - and compared it with the 18.5 pc rise put forward by the previous Labour/LibDem administration.

Labour leader Sandy Martin warned that spending should be targeted on the most needy members of society in the county - and on town roads.

He said: “Are you targeting maintenance at the most appallingly-broken estate roads - many of them estate roads in urban areas - or lightly-used roads in rural areas in preference?”

But council leader Jeremy Pembroke provided a robust defence of the authority.

He said: “We have been marked the second most efficient county council in the country after Kent. I am very proud of the fact that this county is one of the most efficient in England.”