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EA staff cuts on hold during floods

Environment Agency (EA) chief executive Paul Leinster has told his staff planned redundancies are to be delayed while the organisation remains in ‘incident mode’.

The EA is set to lose 1,700 (15%) of its staff by October, and is instigating a ‘change programme’.

But in a letter to staff, Leinster said the EA was prioritising incident reponse “above all other work”.

He added: “This means we will not be seeking any further engagement with staff on ways of working during this period and will not be entering into any formal consultation arrangements.”

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management said it was “right and proper” that the EA focused on its response to flooding.

But a spokesperson added: “While flooding is and should be the first priority at the moment, what we don’t want to see in the longer term is the downgrading of waste and particularly enforcement related to illegal waste activities.

“Left unchecked, waste crime will damage our industry and our communities, and will leave compliant and responsible operators at a disadvantage.

Phillip Ward, former local government head at WRAP, said: “The EA has rightly put discussions about restructuring on hold while they deal with the floods.

“But even once they have cleared, they will cast a long shadow over future plans.

“Unless the government makes new money available, there must be a real risk that waste activities will be harder hit to balance the books.”

The GMB union warned successive Government cuts had seen EA grants reduced from £846.7m in 2009-10 to £749.5m in 2012-13.

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “Government must immediately reverse the ludicrous cut of 1,700 EA jobs.”

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