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Whole department is axed

PUBLISHED: 15:09 01 December 2008 | UPDATED: 11:07 11 August 2010

AN ENTIRE council department is being scrapped in a bid to stave off a £4.5 million financial crisis, the POST can reveal. The Regeneration section will cease to exist on April 1 next year, and its workload will be divided up among the remaining four depa

AN ENTIRE council department is being scrapped in a bid to stave off a £4.5 million financial crisis, the POST can reveal.

The Regeneration section will cease to exist on April 1 next year, and its workload will be divided up among the remaining four departments.

The drastic step is designed to streamline the council's overheads, and make its management team more efficient.

The decision was made behind closed doors during the 'private business' agenda at the end of last Tuesday's Executive meeting.

But the POST has obtained a letter written by Jennifer Dearing, Corporate Director of Regeneration, which was sent to her staff the following day.

In it she says it would be impossible to make the required savings with the department in its current format.

Mrs Dearing's current job will be made redundant after the reorganisation.

She tells her colleagues: 'While I am personally very sorry and disappointed by this turn of events, I support the council's decision to prioritise front line services, and I will move on to other things with enthusiasm and optimism.'

The department suffered a hammer blow last month when Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, announced that he was scrapping plans to build the Docklands Light Railway extension to Dagenham Dock.

The decision placed the massive 10,800 home Barking Riverside development in serious jeopardy, with council bosses warning that it could not go-ahead without the DLR.

A budget report at Tuesday's Executive said the council was heading for a £4.5 million overspend unless significant savings could be found.

Children's Services is in biggest trouble with a deficit of £3.9 million, mainly due to the high cost of children in care.

It is understood that council bosses have been told to find £7million of savings this financial year, rising to £13 million in 2009/10, £11 million in 2010/11 and £10 million in 2011/12.

In an email sent to all council staff Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, said: "This decision has not been made lightly but in order to protect front-line services.

"Streamlining in a planned and professional way our senior management arrangements will provide efficiency savings for future years' budgets."

Mr Whiteman said he would meet all Regeneration managers tomorrow (Thursday) and that staff would be consulted about changes.

He added: "Like every local authority in the country we must properly manage the process of making efficiency savings in order to maintain reasonable council tax levels and invest where needed to meet new demands.

"We are doing all we can to make these changes without disrupting the clear improvements we are making as a council.


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