A thousand public sector workers will have lost their jobs due to the huge public spending cuts taking hold at Merton Council, whose leadership has been buffeted by a series of political setbacks.

In a wide-ranging interview to mark his first year in charge of the council, leader Stephen Alambritis insisted to the Wimbledon Guardian that his administration would be remembered for more than £70m worth of spending cuts set to be delivered by 2014.

The eye-watering savings mean that, by 2015, the council will be one-third smaller by employing 2,000 employees compared to 3,000 in 2010.

Coun Alambritis said: “In all councils there will be a level of bureaucracy and if you can take out the bureaucracy you get to the efficiency.

"There will be no waste by 2015 because we will be a third smaller.

"We will be leaner and not necessarily meaner, but still with an eye to serving the residents.

“But obviously if we are going down from 3,000 to 2,000 staff – in a way that engages with staff and is voluntary in the main – then yes, we will have got staff working smarter.”

The Labour leader, who is in charge of a minority administration which had to secure the support of three Merton Park Independent councillors to deliver a budget in April, has failed to drive through two key manifesto commitments: a pledge to give each council tax payer a £25 rebate and a promise to introduce wheelie bins for garbage across the borough.

Although the cut to the free garden waste scheme was the cut which attracted most ire from residents, Coun Alambritis perhaps surprisingly singled out a seven per cent cut to social services as the toughest decision he has had to make so far.

He explained: “The toughest decisions have been about children’s services – whilst those were only 3 per cent cuts, and whilst there were cuts to social services – 7 per cent – nevertheless they were cuts. Difficult decisions made with regard to pruning those areas in a very small way but the impact can be quite big.”

“There are cuts have surprised us in terms of the reaction from residents. The garden waste cut which has saved the council £250,000… that’s non-statutory, we don’t have to do that.

"We saw the saving we could make and we went for it. But the reaction from residents has been quite high.”

“I think the bulky waste scheme is proving very, very useful. People love it.”

“Not introducing [the bulky waste scheme] as quickly as possible.”

“It’s been a difficult year; I would give it 7 out of 10. There is scope for improvement but I do think it’s based on consensus and based on the fact that there’s not a majority, that I have to deal with other parties."

Click below to listen to each part of the interview. The interview in full is also below:

Part 1: Summing up of first year

Part 2: Axeing of free Garden waste scheme: "People are very vexed about it”

Part 3: Failure to recruit library volunteers shows the 'Big Society' “needs more work”

Part 4: Alternatives to cuts: “Our reserves aren’t as big as other London councils”

Part 5: Redundancies and cuts to bureaucracy: “Merton Council will be a third smaller by 2015”

Part 6: Administration is not just about cuts

Part 7: Reader questions: Should Merton taxpayers’ pay for Olympic Games tickets?

Part 8: Reader question: When is AFC Wimbledon coming home to Merton?

Part 9: Reader question: Why not reveal top earners’ salaries?

Part 10: Biggest achievement/regret + Administration's marks out of 10

The full interview (30mins):

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