Wokingham Borough Council braced for £13.7m budget cuts

Will Taylor

Up to 150 jobs at Wokingham Borough Council will go after the executive approved £13.7 million of cuts by 2020 on Thursday.

The staff reductions, which are expected to be made by letting contracts expire and not replacing some who leave, will save the council £4 million by 2019.

It also plans to make £9.7 million in other cuts as part of the 21st Century Council plan, due to the loss of its government revenue support grant.

It comes on top of the already budgeted £5.2m of cuts implemented for the current financial year.

As part of the plan, the structure of the council will be thoroughly reformed to accommodate the cuts, with generalist officers going into communities to identify issues, such as pot holes or obstructions, and request them to be fixed using a new IT system.

During the executive meeting, leader of the council Keith Baker (Con, Coronation) echoed comments made last week by Andy Couldrick, the chief executive, who said ‘salami-slicing’ was not an option.

Cllr Baker was asked by Lindsay Ferris (Lib Dem, Twyford) if the cuts would affect WBC’s effectiveness in the future.

The council leader said: “We will be leaner and fitter, enabling us to continue to perform as a good, strong and effective council despite the financial challenges we face.”

The council aims to reduce staff as contracts expire and by not replacing some who leave.

It will also soon be able to enforce parking itself, instead of relying on Thames Valley Police, as the executive approved launching an application to the Department for Transport to gain Civil Parking Enforcement.

Cllr Pauline Jorgensen (Con, Hillside), executive member for resident services, said it was ‘disappointing’ the council had to take it on from the police.

She added: “I just hope we don’t end up on one of those Freeview night time shows.”

Developments on Dinton Pastures, in Davis Street, Hurst, were also approved as part of the Local Plan Update, and the suggested use in the report to the executive was listed as ‘leisure’.

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