PLANS have been unveiled for a major cut in finances surrounding public space and grounds maintenance across Worthing and Adur.
The move to bring services in-house would end a 10-year contract due to expire with gardening firm Continental Landscapes.
This would result in £500,000 being axed from the councils’ £3million total budget and prompt a number of job losses. As a consequence, it would require funding of up to £250,000 being allocated towards a programme of voluntary redundancies.
Both Worthing and Adur councils decided last year that maintenance services would become a joint operation, as it continues to its drive towards sharing resources.
According to a council report, frontline services would be unaffected by the move, which would largely centre on streamlining management across the authorities.
Despite the proposed cuts, the savings envisaged would initially be cancelled out by an estimated £500,000, which would be required to buy new machinery for an in-house team of staff.
Adur cabinet member David Simmons questioned why staff from the existing gardening contractors had to be moved across to a council pay structure. He feared this would end up costing the council more in the long-term with increased pension provision.
Worthing Borough Council officers responded that in migrating staff from private contracts to its own operations, it would only be fair they were on appropriate pay scale and conditions to the reset of its workforce.
Worthing councillor Clive Roberts said: “This will involve changes for both councils, but I think it will be good experience overall. We are also seeing a number of people in the community looking after specific places around our area including Facebook groups, which may help the cost of our maintenance, which I think is a brilliant thing and could be a way forward.”
The proposed cutbacks would be apportioned to the levels of services across the two authorities – with two thirds of the costs being met in Worthing over the next two years.