Street wardens targeted in bid to save £584k
STREET wardens, food hygiene inspectors and licensing officers could be slashed by 25 per cent as part of a new round of 'draconian' budget cuts.
Torbay Council has been accused of not having a proper long term strategy after it debated £584,000 in savings to its community safety budget.
It has been warned a lack of hygiene inspectors could lead to 'a major food poisoning outbreak'.
Frances Hughes, executive head of community services, told the overview and scrutiny committee a complete staffing restructuring would have to be done which could see 12 to 16 employees lose their jobs.
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She said two of the seven street wardens currently patrolling the streets of Torbay will be lost while community partnerships throughout the Bay would see a reduction in their grants.
As part of the proposed cuts an £84,000 reduction in grants for community development is planned along with £89,000 cuts to community protection, £77,500 to divisional management, £20,000 to corporate health and safety and £156,000 to safer communities Torbay, which is responsible for street wardens. It was warned the cuts would reduce Torbay's capacity to attract, organise and police events.
Gordon Jennings, chairman of the Watcombe and Barton Community Partnership, told the meeting: "By reducing the number of street wardens you will take away the glue which keeps the community together. We will revert back to communities looking inwards instead of being fully integrated.
"The street wardens save money by helping reduce anti-social behaviour, providing a sign-posting service for some of our vulnerable people. They are the eyes and ears."
Susie Colley, chairman of the Torre and Upton Community Partnership, agreed, saying: "Street wardens act as a point of contact for many people on the edge and can reach them before crisis point is met. We should be supporting their work not taking it away."
Mrs Colley attacked Torbay Council's overall approach to budget cuts saying there was no long term plan.
She said: "They're cutting the emergency services. We will end up worse off than we are now."
Cllr Steve Darling said: "The big question emerging from these proposals is whether Torbay is viable as a local authority over the next three years.
"I fear we will start failing in our statutory duties of care."
Cllr Jane Barnby said: "I find these cuts draconian."
As part of the planned cuts Torbay Council is proposing to take £125,000 away from health and safety, trading standards and licensing.
Cllr Darren Cowell said the authority would open itself to having to face the fall out of a major food poisoning outbreak if fewer food and hygiene inspections are being carried out.
But Cllr Alison Hernandez defended the cuts saying services such as street wardens had already been running at lower staffing levels and 'there has been no major catastrophe so it will not make any difference'.
Mrs Hughes added: "This is just a proposal at present. But if we don't cut there, where else do you want me to cut?"