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190 jobs to go - £40m cuts needed in Southampton

Almost 200 jobs are to go - and some services will be merged as Southampton City Council, once again, struggles to balance its books. Today, council leaders confirmed the scale of the savings needed.

One hundred and ninety jobs will be axed this year, with 40 posts to go immediately. Council tax in the area will rise by almost two percent - for the fourth year running. There is a £12 million financial black hole, and the authority needs to save £40 million over the next four years. Juliette Fletcher reports.

The interviewees are Councillor Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council, Labour; and Hayley Garner from the Unison trade union.

Adoption appeal for 22 children who need new homes

Twenty-two children in Southampton are in need of adoptive families to take care of them. The city council says it is looking for stable, nurturing and caring homes to house the youngsters.

Staff from the children's services department are particularly keen to hear from adopters living within a 40-mile radius of the city, who could provide a home for older children, siblings and children with special needs.

Southampton City Council is looking for adopters who can provide new homes for children

The local authority is holding an information evening at 6pm- 8pm on Tuesday 10th February at the Civic Centre in Southampton, SO14 7LY.

An adoption information evening is being held at the civic centre in Southampton

"We urgently need new adopters to come forward from Southampton and the surrounding area. To me adopters are real heroes who take on a huge but ultimately challenging and rewarding responsibility. We know that children have a significantly better chance in life if they are able to live in a safe and stable family environment and this is why it is so important that we continue to recruit more adopters.

We treat all enquiries fairly, provide full training and offer on-going support. Adopters can come from a variety of backgrounds or domestic circumstances from young couples and experienced parents to single people and same sex couples. So if you are considering adoption I would urge you to get in contact and come along to our event on 10 February."

– Councillor Mark Chaloner, Cabinet Member for Safeguarding, SOuthampton City Council


Parents urged not to forget to apply for school places

The deadline for applying for secondary school places for September 2014 is fast approaching. Southampton City Council is urging parents of children currently in Year 6 to get their applications in on time give them a chance to secure a place at a school of their choice.

Applications must be in my midnight on Thursday 31st October. The council has written to every family with guidance on applying for a school place, the most important criteria is that the application is received on time. Late applications go to the bottom of the pile.


New £90m WestQuay development approved

Hammerson's plans for a new shopping destination in Southampton Credit: Hammerson

A £90m expansion for WestQuay shopping centre in Southampton has been approved.

The planning application was put forward by Hammerson, who originally developed WestQuay shopping centre in 2000.

Southampton City Council have supported the new Watermark WestQuay scheme which will sit next to the existing centre.

The WestQuay centre already attracts 17 million consumers a year.

The masterplan will be built in two phases - the first including a cinema, up to 15 restaurants and more retail space.

The next phase will see a residential tower, hotel, office space, restaurants and public space installed.

Guy Wells, Development Manager for Hammerson, said: "The site offers a unique opportunity to transform a redundant brownfield site and will ensure that Southampton continues to provide residents and visitors with a fantastic retail and leisure offer in the city centre."

  1. Richard Slee

Sea rescuers looking for saviours after cuts

Thousands of people have been helped by the Solent Sea Rescue Organisation since the the organisation began in the late 1970s, but now the volunteer service is under threat because of budget cuts.

The service, which operates from 8 bases on the south coast, has had its grant from Southampton City Council stopped and is now looking for new financial support to stay afloat. In his report Richard Slee spoke to James Godwin, a Senior Crewman and Peter Edgar from Solent Sea Rescue Organisation.

"CCTV unreasonable" says ICO

The Information Commissioner has branded the use of CCTV in taxis in Southampton "unreasonable" and ordered the authority to stop taping the private conversations of drivers and passengers.

The commissioner investigated a similar policy which was proposed for Oxford but also ruled it would break the Data Protection Act.

“By requiring taxi operators to record all conversations and images while the vehicles are in use, Southampton City Council have gone too far.

“We recognise the Council’s desire to ensure the safety of passengers and drivers but this has to be balanced against the degree of privacy that most people would reasonably expect in the back of a taxi cab. It is only right that the privacy of drivers and passengers is respected. "

– Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner

Council ordered to stop recording in taxis

The Information Commissioner ordered Southampton City Council to stop recording private conversations in taxis after it ruled they breached the Data Protection Act.

Since August 2009, the council has required all taxis and private hire vehicles to install CCTV equipment to constantly record images and the conversations of both drivers and passengers.

The authority has until November 1st to comply with the order.

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