Jobs and services affected as Yarmouth cuts go deep

A DOUBLE whammy of worse-than-feared spending cuts means no stone will be left unturned as the borough council searches for savings across Great Yarmouth.

Managing director Richard Packham admitted his reaction to the news of last month's national spending review, which cut funding from �15.1m to �10m over four years, was 'unprintable'.

And, with a total of 34pc being cut from central government funding – 9pc more than was hoped by council leaders – all non-essential services will be have to examined in forensic detail.

Mr Packham said: 'It's difficult to see how we can balance the budget without withdrawing things and reducing some non essential services; but what they are we won't know yet. What now needs to happen is we have to look at a list of services and start to on what the council withdraw and reduce without too severe an impact.'

Council leader Barry Coleman said the authority would not compromise on keeping the streets clean, making sure bins were collected, and parks and open spaces were maintained.

But he pointed to the areas that the council is not legally obliged to fund – including things like leisure facilities, community centres, welfare advice and CCTV – as the places which may be affected.

'It comes down to hard decisions' he said, before adding 'but that's not to say there aren't lines in the sand we won't cross.'

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Aware that, in addition to the national cuts of 7.25pc a year, nearly �4m of additional funding to the area is going to be stopped next April, the council has already started a review of its costs.

So far 40 vacancies have gone unfilled at the council, and at least another 30 internal posts, including that of a senior director, are likely to go as �700,000-worth of savings are sought.

Reviews of a range of services are also taking place, with 15pc savings being found on average so far.

A reduction in the number of pages of the welfare benefits form from 26 to six was given as an example of where such reviews can both save money and benefit residents.

Mr Packham added: 'It may not mean that services cease, and we can find new ways of delivering them, whether through partnership with other councils or through the private sector.'

Comprehensive decisions are unlikely to be made before a more refined set of central government figures come next month ahead of the final council budget being set in late February.

But the council leaders spoke enthusiastically of the role of the renewable energy sector would play in the lean years, and talked of local voluntary organisations as being more important than ever.

'As an example of some early ideas, the parish council could do things in a more local, more cost-effective way, and we could work more with local groups' said Mr Coleman.

Both also emphasised that investment on things like the Maritime Festival that drew people to the area would continue, and that they remained ambitious for the borough for the coming decade.

'We want to make this a place where people want to come and work, and where we're no longer seen as having deprived parts. We want the expectations of people to be as high as possible.' Mr Coleman added.