Redbridge Council will leave ‘no stone unturned’ to save further £34m by 2018

Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford town centre (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford town centre (photo: Arnaud Stephenson) - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

The leader of Redbridge Council said the authority will “feel the pain” of residents as it agreed proposals to cut £36million from its budget.

Cllr Jas Athwal said the council “must face facts” about its financial situation – with the authority still needing to cut a further £34m by 2018 to tackle a £70m shortfall.

His comments came after the cabinet agreed the initial plans on Monday, which include closing three libraries, reducing the opening hours of children’s centres and putting more services online.

He said: “Whatever pain the residents feel, we as residents too, feel that pain.

“We must face facts. We will do whatever it takes.

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“I can’t leave any stone unturned.”

The Labour leader admitted up to 200 full-time posts could be axed by the end of the year – but could not confirm how much would have to be paid out in redundancy packages.

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The council has also revealed proposals to cut three of its chief officer posts and freeze recruitment, saving £5m, which will go before full council tonight (Thursday).

That would all save £36m but, while the council has vowed to protect frontline services such as street sweeping, refuse collection, street lighting, fly-tipping, enforcement and public toilets, it must still find more savings to balance the books by 2018.

Cllr Athwal said the remaining £34m was a “moving target”, with the borough’s population expected to rise by another 22,000 in the next three years.

“We need to look at our methods of delivering these services,” he said. “I don’t think any council has got all the answers.”

Initial proposals published last week included closing three smaller libraries and reducing the borough’s 17 full-time children’s centres to eight, with the others becoming part-time “hubs”.

Cllr Kam Rai, cabinet member for finance and resources, said the proposals were “changing the way we operate these services”.

He said the authority was increasing spending in some areas, with £2.3m going to protecting vulnerable children and £2.59m into adult care.

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