McCloy: We need job cuts to move forward

NEWCASTLE lord mayor Jeff McCloy says plans to make 90 council jobs redundant are a ‘‘mass correction’’ to recent years of wastefulness and mismanagement.

The Newcastle Herald revealed yesterday that cost-cutting proposals shown to councillors included shutting The Loft youth venue, closing swimming pools at Stockton and Beresfield and selling Beresfield Golf Course.

In a statement, acting general manager Martin Coates confirmed that ‘‘almost 90 full-time positions’’ were proposed to be made redundant.

‘‘The administration ... has highlighted to councillors the flow-on effect those reductions would have to services provided to the community,’’ Mr Coates said.

‘‘Council now needs to determine whether these potential impacts are acceptable or not.

‘‘The message has been clear from the start that tough decisions need to be made to ensure the organisation survives in the long term and the approach we are taking is not just skirting around the edges.’’

Cr McCloy said yesterday the only alternative to the proposed cuts was a rate rise, ‘‘and people don’t want that’’.

‘‘We need to do the job once so the place can move forward,’’ Cr McCloy said.

United Services Union organiser Robert Potter said union representatives were attempting to secure staffing provisions that would prevent forced redundancies.

Mr Potter said many of the staff were also ratepayers, and they wanted to see a vibrant and efficient council in the future.

‘‘Senior managers past and present have allowed years of going into debt and not balancing the budget,’’ Mr Potter said.

Greens councillor Michael Osborne described the proposals, which were first shown to councillors during a marathon briefing on Tuesday night, as ‘‘very crude’’.

Cr Osborne said more work should have been done to find efficiencies in the bureaucracy ‘‘rather than simply cost cutting’’.

‘‘It hasn’t gone into the detail that I think it needs to look at,’’ Cr Osborne said. ‘‘If these things go ahead the community will be up in arms and rightly so.’’

Councillors have asked for a second workshop on the budget, where they hope to provide more direction to management.

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