Region begins to feel the squeeze

THE impact of soaring fuel prices and a credit squeeze in the development industry has hit home on the Northern Rivers.

Environmental consultancy firm LandPartners has laid off at least 14 staff from its offices in Ballina and Lismore.

The company shed 60 of its 360 workers across 11 offices between Brisbane and Sydney.

Lismore-based director Tony Hart said the job losses were a strategic move by LandPartners to protect the company from the slowing Australian economy predicted by many analysts.

"I hated having to say goodbye to these people but we are committed to this region and we had to make some hard decisions to ensure our long-term future," Mr Hart said.

Mr Hart said LandPartners, a company formed following a merger between Aspect North and KFM Partnership in 2006, remained financially secure.

News of the local job losses coincides with the release of a Government report showing the number of people in work across Australia fell for the first time since 2006. Most of the job losses were in NSW, with more than 17,000 workers in the State leaving or losing their jobs during May.

Despite the lay-offs, it seems it is business-as-usual for LandPartners.

Lennox Eco Village owner Richard Walsh employed Aspect North five years ago to work on his development and he maintained the same project officers when the company merged.

"From what I understand they are simply tightening up their profit margin," he said.

"It (the job losses) hasn't affected us at all. The senior planner is still working on our project. LandPartners is on board and progressing well."

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