Eighteen Great Yarmouth council jobs are at risk

STAFF at Great Yarmouth Borough Council have been warned 18 jobs could be at risk under plans for a major restructuring.

At a town hall meeting, they were told that the proposed shake-up would see the number of senior management posts cut from seven to five.

The officers going on a voluntary basis if the plans move ahead will be Denis Gilbert, director of community housing, and Mark Burns, head of community services.

The proposals, which will be subject to consultation throughout next month, are part of the authority’s response to swingeing cuts in government funding over the next three years.

It was explained to staff that those affected would have the chance to apply for vacancies elsewhere in the council which have been deliberately kept open to cushion the blow.

Brian Lynch, the regional officer for public service union Unison, implored the council to resist wholesale job cuts and instead lobby the government for a different way forward.

He said: “We oppose public service cuts because they mean cutting public services as well as jobs.

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“There is an alternative to job cuts and cuts in services and that is a well-trodden path.

“We should be campaigning for a Robin Hood tax on financial institutions and not depressing the local economy with job losses.”

Barry Stone, the council’s deputy leader, said the planned restructuring followed the departure of corporate director Peter Hardy before Christmas, cutting the number of directors from three to two.

He said they could not rule out the possibility of redundancies but everything would be kept to a minimum.

Seeking voluntary redundancies and early retirements would be the first step, and at this stage they were not talking about compulsory redundancies. Mr Stone admitted that if the council’s plan to share services with South Norfolk Council went ahead, that might herald further job cuts in 2012.

However, he said: “It would not be significant numbers because we would be looking to enhance services.”

Richard Packham, the council’s managing director, said: “We are in the process of undertaking an organisational review and are currently consulting with staff regarding proposed changes to our internal structure. No decisions are final at this stage.”