Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council identifies £99m of savings

Wiltshire Council sign
Image caption The council wants to cut the number of buildings it operates in from more than 90 to about four

Wiltshire Council has identified £99m of savings over four years during a meeting that lasted more than 11 hours.

Some 220 managers took voluntary redundancy and will have left by the end of March and 175 have left so far.

The plans mean finding volunteers to run some leisure centres and libraries so they can remain open.

Many staff working in the Trowbridge headquarters are being moved to a school so the building can be refurbished to fit in more staff.

The council wants to cut the number of buildings it operates in from more than 90 to about four.

Wiltshire Council was formed in April 2009 when the county council and North Wiltshire, Kennet, Salisbury and West Wiltshire district councils came together to form a unitary authority.

A council spokesman said that had helped it weather the storm.

'Cuts in pay'

John Thomson, deputy leader of the Conservative-run council, said: "We're taking some costs out of the organisation, the back office, and moving it to the front. Over the next four years we'll be putting £32m more into adult care.

"It's not all cuts in Wiltshire, we're in a very different situation to other councils."

Council leader Jane Scott said: "We are not stopping services or closing facilities, and we are not making thousands of staff redundant."

The authority has a total of 15,528 employees, including school staff.

Labour councillor Ricky Rogers said the projection that merging the former Wiltshire councils would produce "considerable savings" had happened, "cushioning the blow" of government funding cuts.

"But we still have significant savings to make and staff are going to be asked to take cuts in pay," he said.

"It was passed yesterday to find £4m of savings by reducing terms and conditions of staff.

"That must be led from the chief executive down."

Councillor Jon Hubbard, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: "From our point of view, it was quite a shocking meeting.

"We spent 12-and-a-half hours in a council chamber without the administration being prepared to compromise or give in any way. They rejected every proposal we put forward."

Mr Hubbard said: "People don't want to be paying almost double what they currently pay to park."

He said members of the public were subsidising free parking for councillors and council staff and the party had proposed to introduce a charge for parking permits for council premises.

He also said the party felt "considerable savings" could be made by reducing the amount the council spends on "self-publicity", such as Your Wiltshire magazine.

He said the money would be better spent on things like reinstating free swimming and fixing roads.

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