London

Westminster Council approves 450 job cuts

Westminster Council offices
Image caption The borough's 2011/12 budget has been reduced to £236m

Westminster Council is to cut up to 450 jobs over the next two years as it looks to save £60m.

Plans to reduce the senior and middle management posts from the 3,000-strong workforce - saving £15m - were approved as part of its 2011/12 budget.

The Conservative-run council will also look to make savings from back-office staff and property costs.

Council leader Colin Barrow said they had worked hard to ensure the cuts would not hit frontline services.

The job losses were approved on Monday night as part of the borough's 2011/12 budget which has been reduced to £236m.

A council statement said key services would be protected in the next year with no children's centres of leisure centres closing.

Council tax also remained at the same level for the fouth-year running.

It said about 80% of the budget saving proposals would focus on reducing unnecessary process and bureaucracy, red tape, senior and middle managers.

'Priorities wrong'

Cllr Barrow said: "No-one wants to cut jobs and scale back services but previous levels of spending were unsustainable.

"There will be further reductions and there may be increased charges, but these will be at the minimum level necessary to maintain our services."

But councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group, accused the Conservatives of protecting back-office bureaucrats above front-line services for vulnerable adults and children.

"The Conservatives have got their priorities completely wrong and need to think again about axing vital front-line services.

"The notion that we cannot afford to look after the old and vulnerable or keep libraries open is a complete nonsense when there is £50m being spent on central administration".

Last week the council published plans to share services with Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea councils to save £35m a year.

The budget is set to be ratified on 2 March.

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