Wolverhampton City Council staff devastated as huge cuts laid bare

‘It’s worse than we expected’ – that was the verdict of devastated staff as huge council cuts were laid bare.

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Staff were called to Civic Hall today to be briefed on the latest rounds of council cuts, resulting in 2,000 job losses

Wolverhampton City Council will axe 2,000 jobs as it cuts services to stop it from becoming insolvent.

It is twice the number of jobs initially proposed for the axe last October and represents around a third of the council’s workforce.

Staff were told the news during meetings with council chiefs – led by chief executive Simon Warren – at the city’s Civic Hall today.

Opposition Tories and Liberal Democrats today called for top level resignations saying the handling of finances were ‘a catastrophe’. Labour blames the council’s woes on Government funding cuts.

Reporter Catherine Dalton was at a Unison meeting at which the cuts were being discussed from 7pm tonight. See her updates here.

Hours for all staff will be shortened apart from those who are paid the lowest, staff were told.

It means people on full time contracts of 37 hours a week will work and be paid only 35 hours, while a pay freeze is also being imposed.

And among the new cutbacks revealed today were that cameras will be used to enforce bus lanes, with fines boosting the council coffers, while businesses will be forced to pay themselves if they want graffiti removed. There will also be a reduction in the budget for outdoor events and all annual pay rises for staff will be frozen.

The council is tightening up on what it pays its workers, with council staff told they even face being docked a day’s pay if they call in sick under moves likely to prove controversial with trade unions.

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Among the latest savings announced today, Wolverhampton City Council will install cameras to catch motorists driving in bus lanes, such as this one on the A449, Stafford Street, in the city centre

The job cuts and threats to services are part of £123 million of savings the local authority must make over the next five years.

Just last month, finance boss Councillor Andrew Johnson warned that the authority would go insolvent and would not even have enough money to be able to empty the bins unless it made deep and severe cuts in spending.

Today, the council’s leader confirmed that the books would balance and that the insolvency threat had been stopped by the ‘painful’ cuts that had been drawn up.

2,000 jobs now face Wolverhampton City Council axe

At a glance – today’s new cuts are revealed

But Tory opposition leader, Councillor Neville Patten, said: “The whole situation is awful.

“This council is playing a political football with people’s lives.

“It’s all wrong.

“Andrew Johnson says the Government has singled Wolverhampton out – no it hasn’t.

“All councils are cutting budgets and it’s Wolverhampton’s mismanagement that’s brought us to this.

“Incompetent financial people are running the council.

“I think resignations would be appropriate – they’ve proved themselves not up to the job.

“I feel very sorry for people who will be losing their jobs and we’ll be losing a lot of good people.”

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Union representatives talk to council staff following meetings with bosses about multi-million pound cuts

His finance spokesman Councillor Wendy Thompson added: “Frankly you wonder whether senior people should resign.

“Is it appropriate for certain people to remain in their jobs when this is happening.

“Everything comes back to the political leadership and there has been years of mismanagement.

“It’s been poor to say the very least – there should not be this panic and I’ve never seen such a mess in all my life. Wolverhampton is a catastrophe.

“Heaven knows when all this will end.

“There will be a lot of conscientious, hard-working staff who will lose their jobs, which wouldn’t be the case if this council had been careful.

“I feel very sorry for these people and the one thing they shouldn’t be brainwashed into thinking is that it’s all the Government’s fault.

“It’s the council that has got us into this mess.

“You’ve got to ask, what have we got left and what have they been doing with the money?” Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Malcolm Gwinnett added: “This is a disaster.

“People would be better off setting sail on the Titanic than being with this council.

“I think it stems from the top. The chief executive Simon Warren is the man responsible and it’s under his leadership that we’ve found ourselves in this mess.”

Council leader Roger Lawrence said it was unreasonable to blame the chief executive when he said it was the government that had cut the council’s funding.

As council staff emerged from the Civic Hall today there was shock that the number of jobs being axed had gone up again.

Gill Everall, aged 48, who works in regulatory services, said: “It is worse than we expected and don’t think there will be any service that won’t be affected in one way.”

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Wolverhampton Civic Centre – where council bosses have outlined deep cuts which will affect staff and services
 John Everall, 54, who works at City Archives at Molineux Hotel, said: “They say it could be 2,000 redundancies. They are talking about reducing hours, except the lowest paid.

“He (Simon Warren) hasn’t given any names or pointed out any people this is going to affect.”

Meanwhile, Linda Rawson, 52, questioned whether bosses were thinking about the elderly population of the city.

Mrs Rawson, an advanced support worker in the community intermediate care team, said: “I am annoyed with all these redundancies, are they thinking about the elderly of Wolverhampton?

“It will be reducing hours for full-timers from 37 to 35 hours.”

Jayne Rudkin, 51, is also from the care team and added: “I am worried. It is bad enough to know we are going to lose two hours but the job is still not safe.”

There was some positive news from the meeting with bosses pledging to save Bantock House and Central Baths.

Both historic facilities have been under threat and both have seen big public campaigns launched to save them.

Chiefs also revealed that volunteers are being sought to keep libraries open. Councillor Roger Lawrence, the Labour leader of the city council, said: “I would like to place on record my thanks to everyone who took part in the budget consultation and pay tribute to the serious and constructive approach adopted.

“Particular thanks must go to those who said they would be prepared to step in and help us with this crisis by volunteering or working with us to find alternative ways of saving money to prevent service cuts.

“We’ve made no secret of our financial position and these budget proposals are a direct result of the savage cuts Central Government is making to our budget.”

He said the council would have lost £147m, more than half what it used to receive, in Government funding since 2010.

“No organisation or individual could sustain losing half of their income without having to radically reduce spending,” Councillor Lawrence said. We are no different, but when a council reduces its spending that means services people value get cut and jobs are lost.

“It is painful and difficult, but it is unfortunately necessary.

“We will manage through these difficult circumstances, we have no choice but to take these measures in order to produce a legal and balanced budget.

“More job losses are hugely regrettable, not just for the individuals who face losing their livelihoods but also for the city because many of these people live here and spend their money here.

“Proposing such radical changes to terms and conditions of employment are also something we would rather not have to do, but we have little choice with the sums of money we need to save.”

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Wolverhampton Central Baths faces the loss of £316,000 a year but council bosses have pledged to save it going forward

Despite the council pledging to do all it can to save Central Baths Carol Bailey, who has led a campaign to save the leisure facility, called it a ‘grim’ day for the city. She said: “I know the council is doing all it can to save Central Baths and to limit the impact cuts have on leisure in the city.

“They have spoken about possibly running it commercially and spreading the cuts across all three leisure sites; Central Baths, Bert Williams Centre and Aldersley.

“When I go swimming at Central Baths I see people from the council there looking at the structure and assessing ways they can save money.

“You wouldn’t be doing all that work if you wanted to get rid of it so easy, so they are working hard.

“But 2,000 jobs is a massive loss to Wolverhampton. It’s a grim day and no-one wants to make these cuts. I think as a city we have to look at what services we have on offer now, like Central Baths, and use them more or they could go.” Labour MPs today rallied round to support the council. MP for Wolverhampton South East Pat McFadden said the council had been left in an impossible position, and there would be serious consequences whatever course of action it took.

“The responsibility for these decisions lies squarely with the Government which is cutting the council’s grant in half,” he said.

“These cuts will have a real impact on the people of Wolverhampton, and by the end of these proposals the size and shape of our local authority going to be very different from what we have been used to in the past.”

Fellow Labour MP Emma Reynolds, who represents Wolverhampton North East, said she believed the council was doing the best that it could under very difficult circumstances. “The council is doing all it can to protect overall services, however, it faces the unprecedented challenge of having to cut £123 million worth of cuts due to the fact that central government is cutting its grant by around a half,” she said. “What they are trying to do is reduce services rather than cut them altogether, which I believe is the best way to go about it.”

Dawn Sant, regional organiser for Unison, said workers going into the briefings was “like watching lambs to the slaughter.”

The union meeting tonight to discuss the impact of the announcement.

“They are in shock, I have never seen it like this, it is like when you have kicked somebody so hard and they are lying in the gutter. They are totally shocked.”

“The council are eroding everything and the biggest concern I have got is the fact it is £123 million from £98m in just a few months. It is haemorrhaging money.

“Now they are asking people to take a cut on their nationally agreed terms and conditions. They are asking them to have a reduction in their working week from 37 to 35 hours. There will be no overtime rates at a weekend.”

Comments for: "Wolverhampton City Council staff devastated as huge cuts laid bare"

benji

Will the last person out of Wolverhampton please turn the lights off. Once again the legacy of thousands of people who in reality have none jobs is being aid bare. For too long there has been excess baggage and much of it is at the very top level of management. Shameful, but then again the hardest hit never work at the very top even though they have more common sense than those that do.

Lakeside

Neville Patten, Emma Reynolds, Pat McFadden and Paul Uppal, instead of pathetic crocodile tears get off your £70000 a year backsides and actually do something to help this wretched town. Stop the childish politics and party games and do something for the people who were sadly stupid enough to believe that any of you were worth a vote. None of you has contributed anything of worth to the place and I hope that you are all deselected wgen voters realise what a wet, weak snivelling bunch of journeymen party folloers you are.

PAUL MULLERY

Let's be absolutely clear what all this is about. Under the guise of saving money, public sector jobs are being savaged for one reason and one reason only. To weaken the only trades unions who have any power left. The public sector unions. It is no coincidence council staff, London Underground, college and university staff are all under threat. This government wants to run down the hard core of union support and hope that when people are recruited back into the public sector they can be assimilated without union membership.

I must add, however that if Unite was not so hesitant in taking action, unlike the London Underground, this government wouldn't get away with half of it. Imagine if bins weren't emptied or other vital staff downed tools, it could be completely different.

charlie.bear.5836

Go on then "down tools".

See where that gets you and how much support you have!

Lakeside

Paul, some of what you say may be correct. Unfortunately the unions representing council workers in Wolverhampton are weak and unable to actually get a grip. I hope that workers who find their hours reduced will not work any voluntary overtime to compensate. If the council wants cuts then make damn sure they get them. From now on do nothing you are not paid for.

Mensa Wolves

It's a bit melodramatic to say 'lions led by donkeys' but maybe 'good workers led by small-minded, politicised, responsibility-shirking incompetents'.

May be awful times for those made redundant now but try to use it as an opportunity to do something you've always wanted... set up a new business, re-train, get a job in the private sector... give yourself a chance and work where your abilities are much more appreciated.

WBPete

The leader of the council needs to resign along with the rest of the cabinet. Financial mismanagement has been a major problem for years and now the final straw, in the form of reduction in central government grant, has broken the camels back.

Central government need to take over the council in the same way they have taken over failing Children’s Services at other local authorities. They should come up with a plan to put the council back on a sound financial footing and put it to the people in a special election. The other option is bankruptcy.

Jacko

In the real world, any CEO who had presided over this mess would be history. Not so with the ludicrous and incompetent bunch of wasters running the council.

First of all Warren should only be allowed to stay if he agrees to a reduction in salary of 50%.

All councillors allowances and payments should be stopped immediately.

All payments for goods and services for asylum seekers and immigrants should be stopped immediately.

All foreign language translation should be stopped immediately.

No money should be spent on "multi-cultural" activities.

No money should be spent on advertising or marketing until further notice.

Then tomorrow start with another list of execs who will be offered a reduction of 50% in salary or no job.

Then add another list of money saving cuts such as reduce the number of councillors by 60%.

If you mean business you need to start att he top and work down not start at the bottom and work up.

Lakeside

You an expert in contract law then? No, thought not.

nick_thompson82

This is the same council that a few months ago was going to spend tens of millions refurbishing the Civic Centre!

JM

I think Senior Management , Councillors and MP's should be ashamed of what they have done to this Town (I refuse to call it a City). The Councillors who voted for Senior Managers to get a pay rise at the start of this Financial Year should resign , the Chief Executive should resign , Directors should resign , Councillors should resign , they have all along with the MP's bought this once proud Town to its knees

There is never any accountability , none of them ever take any responsibility , they all play the blame game , the Chief Executive , Directors , Senior Managers all get very well paid for the responsibility of managing their service areas they should all do the right thing and resign or at least take substantial cuts in their salaries , how can any of them earning over £100k a year continue in their positions

No , they cut the low paid jobs which is easy management , where are the Unions while all this is happening busy looking after their own positions ?

Why have Councillors allowed Senior Managers to build up their own empires over the past years , just who makes these decisions ? 60 Councillors , 3 MP's , 3 Directors , Chief Executive all at the same trough , you should all hang your heads in shame at what you have done to this once proud Town. Too many decision makers who dont even live in the Town have been using our Council as a personal Career Development ladder for years , they have never been interested in our communities and residents their interest is what is in it for them and how they can "get on"

My last comment on our councillors and MP's is no wonder people have no interest in voting at election time , again our Council is just used as a Career Development system for politicians whilst many committed Council workers are treated disgracefully

Saddler147

What a shame they are not going to get sick pay for a day, at this rate council workers will soon be in the real world

Putza Shiftin

Whatever political persuasion people may have, this situation is not down to any party. An organisation only gets to this point after many years of mismanagement. Senior political leaders of all parties are accountable and senior council officers are also responsible for this mess.

If ever a council needed to go into special measures, Wolverhampton does! This is a worse situation than Walsall a decade or so ago.

Clearly the political leaders do not have the nous to work together or the expertise to address this situation if they failed to foresee and prevent it from happening. Equally the senior officers are culpable because we all know the policy proposals and financial planning and projections are generated by them!

Yes the government have substantially cut funding, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that a few years ago.

Now the reserves are gone and the council doesn't have the expertise to lean the organisation, whilst maintaining key services and limiting the impact on residents and front line staff.

They have even had the front to propose a 1.99% council tax rise to avoid a referendum! Do they take the population of the City to be idiots?

Councillors and senior officers should do the right thing now and resign as in building up this deficit, they have presided over a city in decline and despite the odd success like i54, they have totally failed to secure any significant inward investment or regeneration.

Mrs Ivy Trellis

E&S 11 September 2013 reported that 1,000 jobs would be lost over the next 18 Months. Here we are 5 Months later, and 2,000 jobs are about to be lost. How can these buffoons get it so WRONG! - Evidently the cuts need to start from the Top, Down!

Ronnie Allen

Get over it and get a real job. Twerps.

I cud av danced all noit.......I cud av danced all noit........ and still have drunk some mooyer...

La la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaa

PAUL MULLERY

To Ronnie Allen and the other intellectual, Charlie Bear. When you are in your dotage and waiting for a gentleman from Social Services to arrive and wipe your backside, you may find yourselves sitting in a pile of sh*t for a considerable time owing to those cuts you appear to endorse.

It's amazing how the most ardent right wing Tory suddenly finds his or her socialist credentials when they need help in old age. I just hope that help is there for you. At that point you will probably complain about the cuts to public services.

Lakeside

Well said Paul. Ronnie and Charlie really have no idea of what real council workers do. I am not a council worker but close friends of mine are. Perhaps Ronnie considers £30 million pounds spent protecting children to be a waste, or a job for a twerp? Yes, £30 million of taxpayer's money to save the lives of kids. The decent people, dedicated to getting a proper, professional job done who are in the office early and leave late to deal with the workload generated by the present cuts and do so for no extra pay.

mrbromford

some clarification needs to be given on two fronts

The future of councillors they must be cut by at least by 60%

I read today that the council are donating £5000 for chrismas lights in the city

everyone is going to have the pain of losing there jobs why should we have so many councillors

Stanna

The real losers in this are the council tax payers who give their hard earned (about to be increased)contributions. With the amount of cuts outlined here I cannot imagine many people who live in the borough will be unaffected.

At this moment in time it does not matter about who is to blame (this can be apportioned at the feet of those of many different political persuasions) but it does matter that the people of Wolverhampton get the best services possible under the current financial restrictions.

When the dust has settled I hope the truth of what has happened at Wolverhampton council and why it has got into such a severe financial mess is made public. If there are any irregularities those who are responsible should face the law courts to explain their actions and answer to the law of this country.

The voting Wolverhampton public will have their say at the ballot box.