Council reeling from jobs shock

Council leader Marie Rimmer
Council leader Marie Rimmer
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ONE hundred local authority workers have applied for voluntary redundancy as St Helens Council bids to keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum.

Council chiefs have agreed to make £28m worth of savings in the next financial year after receiving a huge funding cut from central Government and are now scrutinising every job vacancy in a bid to limit service cuts.

Council leader Marie Rimmer (pictured) revealed the extent of cuts at a cabinet meet last week.

One hundred and thirty vacancies have already been closed up and 40 council employees have successfully applied for early retirement.

The news comes at the same time as St Helens Chamber warned that the local economy is struggling on its road to recovery.

Economic survey results for the last quarter of 2010 showed that local manufacturers experienced a dip in domestic sales - down 20 points on the previous quarter - and growth among service sector companies also remained sluggish.

The drop in domestic order books for the third quarter in succession for both sectors is also a major concern, particularly for service sector businesses, which have not seen any positive growth since 2008.

But Sara Williams, Director of Enterprise Development at St Helens Chamber, said: “St Helens businesses have done exceptionally well considering the many challenges they have faced over the last couple of years. However, as we enter 2011, businesses face some major challenges as the UK implements its forceful deficit reduction programmes and St Helens will not be immune to these pressures.

“At a national level, Government has a key role to play in supporting business in order to safeguard and help create new jobs. There must be a relentless focus on ensuring that businesses are able to invest, export and create jobs. The Government must avoid new business taxes and measures that damage initiative, enterprise and innovation at all costs.

“Business is willing and able to drive the recovery, but it can only do so if the Government backs its words with actions. Promoting stronger economic growth should be the Government’s main policy priority for 2011 and beyond.”

n The ticket unit at Merseytravel’s head office in Hatton Garden has closed.

Travel passes for older people are now available from all seven Merseytravel centres across Merseyside at St Helens, Liverpool ONE, Birkenhead, Southport, Bootle, Huyton and Liverpool Queen Square. Passes are also available at any post office in Merseyside. In St Helens they are available at the Merseytravel Centre at St Helens Bus Station.