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Council planners face redundancy as protesters march on London

Up to 31 planning staff at Westminster Council have learned they could lose their jobs as more than 250,000 protesters demonstrated against spending cuts in the capital at the weekend

Opposition to the government’s public sector cuts flared on Saturday (26 March) following a TUC-organised demonstration which broke out into sporadic violence caused by anarchists who trashed shop fronts.

Santander, HSBC and Lloyds banks had their windows smashed and were daubed with paint while luxury food retailer Fortnum & Mason and the Apple Store on Regent Street were occupied.

Protesters demonstrated against cuts to publicly funded organisations which they claimed were ‘unfair’.

The march came as 31 staff at Westminster City Council planning office found out their jobs could be at risk. In January the AJ reported that as many as 100,000 staff in 131 local authorities could be made redundant following the government’s 26 per cent grant funding cut in late 2010.

Labour councillors in Westminster claim the job losses in the borough will be inevitable unless the government allows the council to increase its planning fees and raise an extra £1.3 million next financial year.

Paul Dimoldenberg,leader of Westminster City Council’s Labour Group, said: ‘Westminster’s Planning Department is one of the best in London but the Conservatives have so mismanaged the Council’s finances that £60 million of cuts are being made, charges are being increased and 31 experienced and dedicated planning staff risk losing their jobs.

‘Why is the Government taking so long to make its mind up on the level of planning fees for next year. The longer they dither and dally the greater risk of redundancies. Or is the recent anti-planner rhetoric from Cameron and Pickles an indication of what planners in Westminster and elsewhere can expect from the Conservatives in the future?’

The additional pressure on the capital’s planners comes as it emerged Manchester City Council has planned to axe its head of planning and building control.

The council – which plans to make £109 million worth of savings this year and £170 million next year – has hinted the planning department could face further cuts.

Readers' comments (1)

  • It's disappointing that AJ has taken the (all too predictable) standpoint of focusing on the violence, disorder and vandalism on 26 March - both in the text and the accompanying image of police officers in riot gear - thereby spoiling an otherwise good article highlighting Westminster's irresponsible cuts to vital services. I was proud to be a part of the TUC march on Saturday, and aggressive policing, "trashing" and "sporadic violence" were not a part of my experience or that of hundreds of thousands of others.

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