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Blackburn council leader quits college job to focus on borough
BLACKBURN with Darwen council leader Kate Hollern has given up her day job at the town’s college to concentrate on the impact of Whitehall grant cuts on the borough.
Her decision emerged after she travelled to London to tell local government minister Brandon Lewis that last month’s settlement would lead to reductions in services for children and old people as well as town hall redundancies.
She and Blackburn MP Jack Straw said the figures on which the grant was based were flawed and asked for a rethink on the last day of the official consultation.
Coun Hollern, 57, who receives £22,700 a year as council leader, said: “I have worked for Blackburn college for 13 years on the work-based learning programme.
“As part of efficiency savings, they decided to make two jobs into one and I decided it would be a good time to take early retirement.
“I have got a lot on my plate with the savings we have to make and I need to concentrate on that.
“It is agonising to make another 20 per cent of cuts when we have already cut services to the bone.
“We are talking about cuts to adult social services, care for the elderly, children’s services and redundancies at the council.
“These are people’s lives we are talking about.
“I shall eventually be looking for another day job. I have to live.
“We told Mr Lewis there had been double counting. He said there had been some technical glitches.
“He promised to look again before the final figure are released next week, but we are not holding our breath.”
Mr Straw said: “We made the case for a reconsideration and said there would be difficult decisions to take if the grant figures were not changed.”
A spokesman for Mr Lewis said: “It was a useful and productive meeting where he listened carefully to their concerns.
“Every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to help pay off budget deficit.
“This provisional settlement is fair and will reward councils ready to strive for their communities and gives them another year to get their house in order.”
Ian Clinton, principal of Blackburn College which also employs borough regeneration boss Dave Harling and Tory opposition leader Mike Lee, said: “Kate will be missed. She worked incredibly hard and never allowed being council leader to get in the way of doing her job.”
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