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We have no choice but to cut jobs, says Worcestershire councillor
A LEADING Worcestershire politician has defended controversial plans to axe 1,500 county council jobs - saying they have "no choice" but to make cuts.
Councillor John Campion, who sits in the Conservative cabinet, says there is "no credible alternative" to reducing the in-house workforce a staggering 42 per cent by 2018.
He also says critics of the plan are indulging in "political diatribe" rather than coming up with alternative solutions.
The council is having to slash around £100 million off spending over the next four years, and is looking to reduce the jobs by handing over services to new providers.
Cllr Campion, the cabinet member responsible for the workforce, said: "This organisation is retracting and that's not something we've got a choice over.
"We do need to stop looking out of the rear view mirror and instead, look out of the windscreen.
"By doing what we are doing we can continue to make sure the people of Worcestershire get services rather than just cut for the sake of it.
"Because of the financial situation this council is in there is not a credible alternative - the alternative is not to have services at all."
He also said the Labour group's criticism over it is "rank hypocrisy" given the number of Labour-run authorities around the country doing the same thing.
"It's just political diatribe - look at Sandwell (Council), right on our doorstep - they started making these choices must earlier than we did."
The council is hoping that by offering departments to outside bodies - known as commissioning - many of the staff will find work with the new employer.
Some could be taken over by the private sector, but other organisations like voluntary groups, charities and not-for-profit bodies could all have a role to play.
The tactic has already been criticised by Unison, which says morale among the 3,500-strong workforce is at rock bottom.
Councillor Peter McDonald, opposition Labour group leader, says he fears for the authority's future.
"It's just cuts on top of more cuts, the services the council provides are vital to people," he said.
"Private industry is driven by profit, not by a social need."
As your Worcester News revealed last week, Unison has balloted staff on a possible strike over a one per cent pay rise at County Hall.
A vote on the council's new operating model is being taken on Thursday, May 15.
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