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Nine councils to make job cuts

26 February 09 13:39 GMT

Nine of the 15 councils in Hampshire are axing jobs or leaving posts vacant, figures obtained by the BBC show.

About 400 jobs will go, will be left vacant or will be redeployed, with five councils planning no cutbacks.

The figures are reflected across England with half of the 130 councils reducing posts, according to estimates from the Local Government Association.

But Hampshire County Council is bucking the trend with a plan to create 700 jobs as part of its 2009/10 budget.

Communities minister John Healey said councils should not cut jobs as an easy option, but residents must come first.

'Economic turmoil'

Authorities blame the cuts on the effects of the recession, with a sharp drop in income from everything from land searches to car parks.

In Hampshire, Southampton City Council is reducing its workforce by 128 jobs, with half of the posts being left vacant and the rest looking to be redeployed.

Thirty jobs are under threat at Test Valley with another 30 already vacant posts not being filled.

The Isle of Wight authority will axe 135 jobs in the coming financial year, with another 70 posts to go over the next three years.

Winchester City Council said it expected seven redundancies.

Portsmouth City Council said 25 posts would be lost but hoped most of these employees, if not all, will be redeployed.

Hart council said 15 employees are under threat with more posts likely to be redeployed in the future.

Gosport, Fareham and East Hampshire councils said no cuts were planned but some posts would be left unfilled if they became vacant.

Hampshire County Council was the only authority in the county to plan to create jobs, with much of the funding for them coming from the government.

Council leader Ken Thornber, said: "We are trying to help the community get through the recession, not make it deeper, so as part of our budget plans, there will be a total of over 700 new posts in the coming year."

He said it was important to "ensure residents continue to receive important frontline services during this time of economic turmoil".

Basingstoke and Deane, Eastleigh, New Forest, Rushmoor and Havant councils said they were not planning any job losses.

However, many of the 15 local authorities could not rule out further cutbacks in the future.

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