Ashfield to save £5m as cuts bite

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COUNCILLORS at Ashfield have announced plans to make savings totalling £5 million over the next five years as government cuts continue to bite.

Ashfield District Council’s Cabinet has agreed to make efficiency savings in several key areas to stop frontline services being affected by the reduction in grants from Whitehall.

The proposals include reducing waste and bureaucracy in departments such as customer services, housing and council-tax benefits, waste, the environment and regeneration and culture.

Council bosses also plan to share more services with neighbouring councils such as Mansfield, as well as making sure fees and charges cover the cost of services offered by the authority.

They say the council will save £1.9 million in the next financial year, from April 1 2012 to March 31 2013. The council then plans to make savings of £1.6 million in 2013/14, £1.3 million in 2014/15 and £200,000 in 2015/16.

The Cabinet also agreed to review staffing levels, although Coun Steve Carroll (Lab) says the council wants to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Instead it is hoped staff members who are interested in voluntary redundancy will take it, while existing vacancies will be looked at to see if there were alternative ways of delivering the service.

Coun Carroll added: “We want to manage the changes and work with our employees. Hopefully, we will get to the point where we are not making compulsory redundancies.

“We want to act in a responsible way. If we can plan things in a co-ordinated way, it is far better than walking around with our heads in the sand.”