Service fears as council cuts jobs

A trade union last night warned of a decline in customer service as a result of job cuts at South Norfolk Council. The decision to go ahead with the changes was made at a cabinet meeting held in secret yesterday.

A trade union last night warned of a decline in customer service as a result of job cuts at South Norfolk Council.

The decision to go ahead with the changes was made at a cabinet meeting held in secret yesterday. The ruling Conservative party agreed to replace two corporate directors and 10 heads of service with a deputy chief executive and five directors.

The council says all redun-dancies will be voluntary.

Paul Grant, branch secretary of the Unison union, welcomed the

news that there would

be no compulsory redundancies, but he

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said: "I have dual concerns: about my members and their jobs, and also the service to the public."

Council leader John Fuller said: "It is about streamlining the council and offering better service. It will mean officials spend less time in meetings and more time doing.

"The extent to which this is possible or affordable will be determined by the consultation that will take place over the coming weeks. It could take months, but we would rather do it correctly than rush it.

"Some of the people concerned may wish to take early retirement. Others may not. The decision today has enabled the council to engage with the staff members concerned."

The council also agreed to enter negotiations with Unison and the GMB union and to manage the recruitment in-house. An appointments panel will be set up, to include opposition councillors.

Changes are likely to be brought in early next year.

Liberal Democrat coun-cillor Tim East said: "We have got a new Tory administration, and their priorities seem to be spending taxpayers' money on tinkering with the bureaucracy.

"They have changed the logo; they have cut jobs, which will be expensive and cause disruption; and this is despite the fact that South Norfolk Council may not be here in two years' time if Norwich gets unitary status."

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