Ipswich council staff fear a compulsory jobs axe as part of cost-cutting drive

Parks workers are among those who could face compulsory redundancies at Ipswich council. Flowerbeds in the Upper Arboretum...

Parks workers are among those who could face compulsory redundancies at Ipswich council. Flowerbeds in the Upper Arboretum in Christchurch Park could be changed less frequently as part of cost-cutting measures. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Some Ipswich council staff could face compulsory redundancy as part of cost-cutting plans - if not enough volunteers can be found to leave their jobs.

The borough has said it needs to find another £4.6m of savings over the next four years.

A cost-cutting programme will be discussed at its executive meeting this week, before it is debated by the full council on November 18.

MORE: Borough needs to find more savings

The authority has said it will look at ways of not filling some of the vacant jobs that already exist – and that it needs to cut the number of employees.

Council leader David Ellesmere said it was hoping to reduce heacount by voluntary redundancies.

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However, this newspaper has been told that parks staff at the borough have been told their department will have to lose five members of staff – and if there are not enough volunteers, there will be compulsory redundancies.

One person contacted us to say that staff were worried that they could be out of a job just before Christmas, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Among the cutbacks the borough is planning to bring in is reducing the planting jobs in parks and roundabouts by replacing some plants with perennials which do not need so much attention.

Mr Ellesmere emphasised that there had been no decisions made yet and the proposals would have to be fully debated.

He said: “We will do everything that we can to avoid compulsory redundancies, but I can’t guarantee that there won’t be any.

“In a lot of the savings that we’re making, we are also looking at posts that are currently vacant.”

Among the other changes proposed are closing the Regent Theatre box office, making all ticket sales online or over the phone, and closing the customer service centre in the Town Hall by March 2022.

Increasing numbers of people now contact the council by email or phone, rather than in person.

MORE: Opposition questions need for cuts decision

In unveiling the proposals, Mr Ellesmere revealed that the borough’s reserves had fallen from £6.8m to £50,000 during the Covid-19 crisis.

However, opposition leader Ian Fisher said there was little point in planning for cuts four years in the future when the immediate outlook for council finances was so unclear, with local authorities relying on government support to allow them to run services.

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