410 jobs threatened as Barking and Dagenham council outline £53.5million cuts

Cabinet members will meet at Barking Town Hall this evening (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Cabinet members will meet at Barking Town Hall this evening (photo: Arnaud Stephenson) - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Up to 410 public sector jobs could be at risk over the coming three years as the council sets about making £53.5million worth of cuts.

Far-reaching measures will be discussed before Barking and Dagenham’s cabinet tonight, which will see dramatic changes across the borough if agreed by members as expected.

Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “The scale of the financial challenge facing councils across the country as a result of the government’s decisions to cut public spending is unprecedented.

“As a result of the financial hardship we now face, we need to take some very difficult decisions and make some hard choices in order to achieve the substantial savings we need to make.

“As always we will do all we can to protect frontline services, but unfortunately this time round some will be affected.”

A number of care and homeless centres including The Maples, in Gascoigne Road, could be set for closure, while the council’s annual subsidy for award-winning enterprise and training centre Relish Cafe will be removed.

The borough’s entire fleet of 240-litre green waste bins could also be recalled, ending the weekly collection of green and garden waste, while more mechanical sweepers will replace street cleaners.

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But while council jobs will be axed across the spectrum, up to nine new tax officers would be taken on in a bid to increase council tax collection.

Exemption for second homes, properties being repaired and unoccupied or unfurnished homes will be scrapped, while the level of council tax support will fall from 85 to 75 per cent.

Cllr Rodwell adedd: “It is important that residents understand the scale of the cuts needed, and appreciate the difficult choices that need to be made.

“We are not simply trimming fat as that has already been done, we now need to make cuts that may hurt.”

A public consultation will begin later this month, running until late November, allowing people to raise concerns.

Despite already having the lowest library provision across the capital, the borough’s Barking Learning Centre and Dagenham Library could have their opening hours clipped.

A report in tonight’s agenda admits: “It will be difficult for the borough to argue it is meeting its legal duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service.”

“Lollipop” road crossing staff could be axed, forcing parents or carers to foot the bill for safety supervision before and after class.

All forms of business support activity, including funding for the Barking Enterprise Centre, will go.

But park spaces could be set to feature more commercial advertising in the hope of plugging some of the holes in cash flow.

The council leader urged residents to look through the papers and to come along to the public meetings.

“Given the level of saving we have already made over the last four years, the council has an enormous challenge to make savings on such a large scale,” he explained.

“We take no pleasure in doing this, but it has to be done, and is therefore important that residents understand the tough choices that need to be made and get involved in the process too.

“As a council we can no longer do everything so we are looking at new ways of delivering services in partnership with our voluntary sector partners as well as businesses, residents and community groups.”

To see the full range of cuts visit http://moderngov.barking-dagenham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=180&MId=8003.

How will the proposed cuts affect you? Email mark.shales@archant.co.uk or call 020 8477 3824.

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