Council management posts could be halved

The number of managers at Breckland Council and its new partner authority could be halved to save frontline services from being hit, it emerged yesterday.

Like councils across the country, Breckland faces having to make huge reductions following the government's comprehensive spending review and is cutting its budget from �14.4m to �12.6m.

The council has already started working closely with South Holland District Council in Lincolnshire and they are now sharing chief executive Terry Huggins.

A consultation is now under way over plans to cut the number of directors, assistant directors and service managers between the two authorities.

The final numbers will only be decided once the consultation is over - but the EDP understands that up to 19 of the 37 management posts in the two councils could be cut.

During a meeting of the district's business ratepayers in Watton, Mr Huggins, Breckland leader William Nunn and the head of finance Mark Finch all said cutting management costs would be a crucial part of the overall savings.

Breckland's council tax - currently the lowest in the country - will be frozen next year at �64.05 for a band D property.

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The authority is also determined to protect frontline services.

Other savings will be made by further development of the Anglian Revenue Partnership and also by re-negotiating the IT contract.

Breckland - and all other councils - will hear in December what grant it is getting from the government and it is expected to fall from �11.3m to �9.5m.

Mr Finch said: 'We need to continue to drive down costs. We are sharing a chief executive with South Holland and in the middle of a process to merge the two management teams. That will generate further cost savings and we need to continue that. A lot of councils are interested in sharing services and we need to explore all options to reduce the costs to the local taxpayer.'

Mr Huggins said: 'Breckland is a responsible local authority and it has cut down costs while protecting services which we are here to deliver to the public.

'We are finding ways to save money without closing leisure centres or things which have a real impact on local people.'

'I have been very impressed with Breckland. They have done a lot of things which a lot of local authorities are waking up to,'

During a question time, Mr Nunn was asked if Breckland was considering a work place parking levy.

He said Breckland was determined to keep free parking in the market towns.

'It is really important to encourage people to come to our towns rather than Norwich, Bury or Cambridge.'

Mr Nunn said parking restrictions were being looked at in some areas to stop issues such as people leaving their cars all day in market towns and driving elsewhere.

During the meeting, there were concerns raised about the lack of a business forum and poor broadband in Attleborough and also the prospect of thousands of new homes.

Mr Nunn said the community would have a say on how many homes were built and the number could be cut if there was opposition.