Hundreds of jobs are at risk if Newport council cuts go ahead – union
1:20pm Thursday 17th January 2013 in News
PROTEST: Youngsters who use Gwent Music Support Service protest over proposed cuts by Newport council
NEWPORT council cuts could put between 200 and 300 jobs at risk over the next few years, a union official has said.
The revelation comes after the authority revealed that cabinet members are working through proposals for savings of £3.5 million that were not put to the public in a consultation opened last year.
Peter Short, regional organiser of Unison, said between 200 and 300 posts are at risk, spread out over the next 24 months.
He said the union is to go into consultation with the council and will be fighting to save jobs, protect services and avoid outsourcing or privatisation.
A Newport council spokeswoman said there will be an impact on “some” posts if budget proposals go ahead, but it is committed to keeping compulsory redundancies to a minimum. She said: “Until the budget process is completed, it is not possible to provide details about the impact on staff.”
She also said a public consultation on proposed savings launched last year does not make up an overall shortfall in the 2013/14 budget and would only save £1.6 million.
Newport council’s cabinet agreed a series of proposed savings totalling more than £7 million for 2013/14, with the authority facing a gap in the budget of £8 million – the extra could be found by using reserves or revenue raised from council tax.
A public consultation has been held on a number of proposals, but they do not make the overall shortfall in the 2013/14 budget as they would save just over £1.6 million.
Savings worth more than £3.5 million are subject to cabinet member decisions, some of which have already been taken and others will be decided on in coming weeks.
The majority of decisions being taken by cabinet members will have no impact on the public, the spokeswoman said, such as improved procurement policies which will save £773,000 next year.
3,400 sign petition
PETITION against proposed cuts to a Gwent music service has attracted more than 3,400 signatures.
Gwent Music Support Service (GMSS) is facing a cut of £292,000 in funding if Newport council goes through with proposals out to consultation.
A petition against the move has now attracted 3,462 supporters, with comments left at the site about how valued the service is.
Jan Bennett, of Abergavenny, said her grandson has special needs but has blossomed since he has been with GMSS.
“They achieve wonderful results and work extremely hard,” she said.
“How can you take such small funding away from such an organisation?”
Meanwhile, a leading Welsh composer has said that cuts to youth music services could damage the reputation of Wales as a musical nation. Karl Jenkins told the BBC that cuts to youth music funding were deplorable.
Mr Jenkins, who is from Penclawdd, near Swansea, is said to be Britain’s most popular contemporary composer.
He said that when he went to grammar school as a child music tuition was free. He went on to the West Glamorgan Youth Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra of Wales.
“That’s going to disappear eventually if young children don’t have the facility and opportunity to learn instruments,” the composer said.
“Wales’ reputation as a musical nation will decline.
Instrumental teaching will disappear almost completely, one would think.”
The proposed cut to GMSS, which was subject to a protest outside Newport Civic Centre earlier this month, is still subject to consultation and no decisions have yet been made.
To take part in Newport council’s consultations visit www.newport.gov.uk
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