Councillors Try To Delay Staff Restructuring Decision

town hall windows signSeveral councillors have tried to defer a decision on the Authority’s new staff structure, because they feel there isn’t enough financial information provided.

The details of how the new roles would fit together were discussed in a special sitting of the Full Council yesterday.

Chief Executive Theo Leisjer called on councillors to accept the new plan and move on to appoint the roles, although a more detailed discussion about those people affected was taken later behind closed doors.

He said the new approach, based around the three main departments of Infrastructure and Planning, Services to the Community and Strategic Development, would result in up to 10 people losing their jobs.

That would provide savings of around £1 million on the Council’s current £4.8 million staff budget.

But Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said he wanted to see the figures underlying that estimate.

He said members couldn’t be expected to “rubberstamp” unsupported recommendations, which he said would be “akin to signing a blank cheque.”

Gordon added that there was nothing in the restricted part of the meeting that would give him the information either, although he received a warning from the Chairman Amanda Martin that he shouldn’t discuss that.

Gordon said he couldn’t “talk about something that’s not there anyway.”

Cllr Fran Grottick agreed. She was worried it would be illegal for councillors to approve the new structure if they found out it wasn’t affordable in the long term.

Fran said she’d written to the Council’s Legal Advisor Richard Burraston on Friday to ask if that was the case but hadn’t received a reply. She said in the absence of a response she could “only surmise that there might be a concern.”

Theo said the figures were clear and restated that the overall staff budget would be around a million less than that agreed by the Council earlier in the year.

But other councillors made it clear they were keen to move on with the process. Cllr Christine Savill said the authority’s staff was its greatest asset and they should “get on with this.”

She said employees had been going through the restructuring process for several months and it needed to be brought to a conclusion.

And while she stopped short of saying the exercise had affected services, Chris said it “has been at the back of everyone’s mind.”

The proposal to delay the decision was defeated and a subsequent re-worded proposal to accept the new structure ‘in principle’ was passed by the majority of members.

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