90 Sunderland parks and street cleaning staff face jobs axe

The number of council staff responsible for keeping Wearsides public spaces clean is set to fall.
The number of council staff responsible for keeping Wearsides public spaces clean is set to fall.
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Ninety jobs could go within the department tasked with keeping Wearside’s parks and streets clean.

The latest round of losses come as Sunderland City Council looks to deal with the task of making £46million-worth of savings as Government cuts continue.

“I think they are a big disgrace, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Council worker

Workers say they have been told 90 jobs could go within Responsive Local Services, which is responsible for street cleaning and graffiti removal.

One worker said: “We’ve been called into a meeting and been told they want 90.5 people to go.

“They want volunteers, but that’s 90, and if they don’t then it’ll be compulsory.

“Staff are not happy. It’s not what we wanted and everybody has got to cut the cloth. Most people have been here 25, 30 years.”

Chris Preston of Sunderland GMB, said details were still being confirmed as the consultation period begins and added: “In terms of compulsory redundancies, Sunderland has done well so far in that they have not been massive, because most have been voluntary redundances.” Les Clark, the council’s chief operating officer for place, said efforts would be made to find people alternative roles within the council.

He added that everything has been done to protect front-line services – but the council can no longer do that.

He added: “The council has now reached the point where it can no longer protect the public from seeing deeper cuts to front-line services. Yes, we are reviewing and re-modelling services even more, but it is becoming inevitable that some services will be reduced or even stopped, and the public, if they haven’t noticed already, will notice changes.

“This year, more than £46million is coming out of budgets because of the Government cuts.

“More than £200million has come out of council budgets in the last six years and another £115million has to come out of budgets over the next five years.

“As part of the review of Responsive Local Services, discussions are ongoing with elected members on the shape of future service provision.

“It is too early to confirm numbers at this stage, but it is hoped the reduction can be achieved by natural turnover and workforce planning, such as early retirement.

“Since March 2010, the council has avoided compulsory redundancies and reduced its staff numbers from more than 7,700 to 4,000 as of the beginning of this year.”