Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 10:31 UK

Council to cut hundreds of jobs

The council's Tory mayor has warned of "tough decisions" to balance the books

Hundreds of council jobs on Tyneside are to be lost in an effort to claw back savings.

North Tyneside Council is to axe up to 350 posts, just days after revealing it had a £14m budget shortfall.

The authority has asked for voluntary redundancies from its 7,000-strong workforce, warning "significant savings" need to be made.

Last week the council's newly-elected Tory mayor warned of "tough decisions" if it was to balance the books.

In a letter to staff, the council's chief executive Andrew Kerr said: "Significant savings have to be made now to ensure that going forward we are in shape to cope with difficult times still to come and still deliver high quality, vital services.

"We all need to be clear that if we cannot make savings through the changes we propose, there will have to be further reductions in the overall workforce to offset these."

'Regrettable' action

A council spokesman added: "Job losses are always regrettable, particularly when they occur at times like this.

"That is why we are trying to achieve this through voluntary means. The council is offering an attractive redundancy scheme."

A spokeswoman for the union Unison, which represents about 4,000 North Tyneside workers, said there were fears the job cuts could hit council services.

Last week, mayor Linda Arkley said the budget shortfall could also mean a hike in council tax.

She said: "The council cannot spend money it does not have otherwise we will be taken to the brink of bankruptcy yet again and that is something I am determined will not happen."

Labour group leader Jim Allan said: "This confirms our fears that Linda Arkley has plans to savagely cut jobs and services.

"She will say this is a tough decision, but it is a political decision that she will make and have to justify to those who lose their jobs and their families."

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