Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 11:45 UK

Carmarthenshire council 'may cut over 500 jobs'

Carmarthenshire County Council
All departments of Carmarthenshire council have been told to make cuts

A council is warning that it may have to lose more than 500 jobs over the next three years as it makes £28m worth of cutbacks.

Carmarthenshire county council said it hoped this could be achieved through voluntary redundancy.

"Over 500 jobs may have to go over the next three years unless we can provide services in a different way or at less cost," said spokesman Paul Thomas.

Local politicians described the news as "devastating" and "a hammer blow".

Mr Thomas, the council's assistant chief executive, said that while no compulsory redundancies were planned for the year ahead, there would be reductions in some services when staff leave or retire.

"Unless we are able to find different ways of providing services at less cost, or are able to reduce the cost of services in general, it is inevitable that further job losses will be needed," he said.

Jonathan Edwards MP
There is already a high level of unemployment in the county and so clearly talk of slashing anything up to 500 jobs will be a hammer blow
Jonathan Edwards, MP

He added: "It needs to be emphasised that we would hope that this can be done through voluntary, not compulsory redundancy."

Mr Thomas said the council had written to its staff asking if they would be interested in flexible working options such as reducing their hours, career breaks and voluntary early retirements for those aged over 55 by March 2011.

"All departments have been working towards identifying potential savings of 12.5% over the next three years, and this work is ongoing."

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Jonathan Edwards MP have both expressed their concern at the situation.

'Devastating'

They said they would be writing to the council to arrange a meeting to discuss the potential impact and how support could be given to those facing unemployment.

Unless we are able to find different ways of providing services at less cost, or are able to reduce the cost of services in general, it is inevitable that further job losses will be needed
Paul Thomas, Carmarthenshire council assistant chief executive

"This is obviously devastating news for people in the county," said Mr Thomas, Plaid Cymru AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

Mr Thomas urged the council to explore all other possible avenues for making savings before resorting to job cuts.

"I will be taking this matter up with the Welsh Assembly Government in order to ensure that everything is done from that end in terms of seeking to increase job opportunities and training in the county," he said.

Jonathan Edwards, Plaid's MP for the same area, said: "There is already a high level of unemployment in the county and so clearly talk of slashing anything up to 500 jobs will be a hammer blow.

"What is certain is that these job cuts should not be a bulk cull of the lowest paid employees. The council will need to look at its approach holistically with cut backs being targeted also at remuneration packages of senior officers."



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