AN entrance fee could be introduced at Hollytrees Museum, Leisure World's café could close and staff let go as Colchester Council makes additional cuts, it has been revealed.

The council has outlined drastic changes to facilities as it looks to raise £600,000 to match the new national pay award.

Council works threatened strike action last year in a row over pay.

It was resolved in December as industrial action was called off when a new offer was accepted, which saw staff receiving an almost £2,000 wage increase.

Gazette: Popular - Colchester Leisure WorldPopular - Colchester Leisure World (Image: Newsquest)

A new report being considered by Scrutiny Panel and Cabinet has outlined how £558,530 can be saved.

Key points up for discussion include introducing an entrance fee to Hollytrees Museum for the first time to recoup the money for staff costs and closing the Coffee Shop at Leisure World, with an alternative vending offer or community-run facility in the future.

Other points noted were introducing a different operating model at High Woods Country Park Visitor Centre, either community-led or reduced hours of opening, as well as reducing council staff numbers.

Gazette: New fee - Hollytrees Museum in the city centreNew fee - Hollytrees Museum in the city centre (Image: Robert Lamb)

Colchester Council chief executive Pam Donnelly said: “Like every resident, business and council in the UK, the current economic climate means that the costs of delivering services are increasing, and Colchester Council is no exception.  

“We are taking a measured and pragmatic approach to make these additional savings, whilst trying to minimise the impact on essential services and our staff.

“We are looking at voluntary redundancies and retirement options, but we must be clear, this may also mean charging for previously free services and an increase to some fees and charges.

Gazette: Boss - Colchester Council chief executive Pam DonnellyBoss - Colchester Council chief executive Pam Donnelly (Image: Public)

“We don’t want to implement any of these options, but the money must be found, and the decisions will not be taken lightly.”

The additional £600,000 is needed on top of £6.262 million, which the council says needs saving “over the next three years”.

To close this gap, it will put proposal plans in place to reduce its operating costs by 25 percent over the next three years.

An updated report on Colchester Council’s financial position will be discussed by both its Scrutiny Panel on January 23 and Cabinet on January 24 next week.

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