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Council to leave civic centre by end of year

14:47 21 February 2014

The Civic Centre, Barnstaple

The Civic Centre, Barnstaple

Archant

Up to 50 jobs could go too as austerity measures continue to bite at North Devon Council.

NORTH Devon Council will vacate the civic centre by the end of the year – and up to 50 more jobs could go between now and 2015 as austerity measures continue to bite.

The council is set to rubber stamp a raft of money-saving measures, as well as a council tax freeze, at a meeting tonight (Wednesday).

It is looking to plug a £1.8million gap left by a succession of government funding cuts since 2010.

Chief executive Mike Mansell told the Gazette: “If you look at where we started, adding in inflation, our budget by the end of the five years should be £16.5m, but it will be £10m.

“There will be changes in the way services are delivered. You will see, as a member of the public, changes in quality and response times, but that’s unavoidable – you can’t take that money away and not notice it.”

The district council already employs around 70 fewer staff than it did following the election in 2010.

But that number is likely to increase before the end of the council’s term in 2015, although none of the redundancies will be forced.

Moving out of the Civic Centre, currently leased from Devon County Council, is expected to save the council around £300,000 a year. Staff will transfer to Lynton House in Castle Street, and the Brynsworthy Environment Centre on the edge of Roundswell.

Leader Brian Greenslade said: “We will be doing that in co-operation with the county council over the coming months – by this time next year we will not be here.

Councillor Greenslade said the county council was ‘looking at options at this stage’, but he understood that people from other DCC buildings would be moved into the Civic Centre to make use of the space.

“It still has an interest to us because it has a purpose built council chamber and we would certainly hire it for our main meetings in the future,” he added.

Mr Greenslade said that while there was considerable evidence the national economy was heading in the right direction, North Devon was still ‘quite fragile’.

“Anything we can do to keep costs down we should be doing, but of course there is a price tag to that.

“There will be fewer people employed but it will be done in a considered and not a knee jerk way and we will get the budget down to the required level.

“None of this comes without some grief, as we are clearly not able to provide some of the things we have provided in the past.

“We think that providing the Government doesn’t do anything else we will be able to stabilise the organisation and North Devon Council will remain a viable local government in the future.”

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