£325,000 cost to council as jobs go

The bomb squad dealing with a suspicious item in Stanhope Road

Police say man arrested after ‘suspicious object’ found in Stanhope Road student halls in Portsmouth is held under the Explosives Act

THREE high-ranking members of Portsmouth City Council are to leave in a round of job cuts - costing taxpayers almost a third of a million pounds.

The total cost to the authority will be 325,000 in redundancy and retirement packages.

The move will save the council 185,000 a year, but it will not see any savings until at least 2012-13.

It comes after the city council previously announced it was to axe 408 posts as it looks to save 15m in the wake of government cuts.

Portsmouth City Council's leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'This is the way we have to approach matters like this.

'We have savings to make this year, but also for the next three years at the very least.

'The decision these three heads of service has made will make it easier for us to make the savings we need in the coming years.'

Two of the three leaving - Paul Hunt, of the environment and public protection department, and Susie Waller of health improvement and development, have both accepted voluntary redundancy. Head of finance, Valerie Lane, is to take early retirement.

Although the council would not reveal how much each person is paid, they are each in a pay band of 72,740-80,398 per year.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson also confirmed they will not be the last high-level council officers to lose their jobs.

He said: 'There will be more than that. Every single person in the council, with the exception of only a few people involved in direct care for young people in homes and elderly people, will have their position carefully considered. That includes those at the top, as well as at the bottom.'

Mr Hunt's role will be split between the heads of four departments.

Ms Waller's job will be aligned with the NHS until 2012, when Portsmouth PCT's responsibilities will be taken over by the council. Ms Lane will be replaced in her role, and if someone is appointed from within, the new head of service's old role would be lost.