COUNCIL JOBS SET FOR AXE

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Three-quarters of all management posts could be axed as part of a major staff restructure being proposed by the Alliance of High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands councils.

The leader of High Peak Borough’s Labour Group, Councillor Caitlin Bisknell warned this week that the move will hit front-line services and called for other measures to be taken.

“Obviously I understand that given the unprecedented scale of cuts handed down by the Tory-led government the Council faces a huge challenge in balancing its books. However, this slash and burn approach to staffing and its impact on service provision cannot be justified.”

Cllr Bisknell said other councils were working with employees and unions to look at pay freezes and changes to terms and conditions to avoid redundancies.

She claimed councillors had so far been prevented from discussing, even in private, the cuts, which would see the management team across the two authorities cut from 98 to 24.

But while the councils’ five most highly paid staff (the chief executive and four executive directors) are not affected, Cllr Bisknell said lowly paid supervisors were included. A further four posts look like they have already been allocated, leaving just 20 posts available which the remaining 89 staff can apply for.

“The range of people included in this restructure is ridiculous – there are people on this list who earn less than £20,000 and who would not consider themselves to be part of the management structure and whose chances of being appointed to one the remaining 20 places is probably very limited. There are others who are on double that amount,” said Cllr Bisknell.

Councillor Tony Ashton, leader of the Conservative group on HPBC said: “Councillor Bisknell needs to get her facts right. There are posts to be lost but they will be shared between High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands Councils.

“At High Peak the loss is expected to be around 15. The Council is also working with the unions to look at potential changes to terms and conditions and pay freezes. All the proposals will be considered by councillors as part of the budget.

He said: “Losing valued staff is always painful but, given the size of the savings needed to balance the books and our determination to protect frontline services, inevitable.”

“If it were not for the Alliance, which was opposed by the Labour Group, then the loss of staff would be far worse.

“Unless Labour can come up with some credible and constructive proposals, and get a better grasp of the facts, then their leader cannot expect to be taken seriously,” he added.

Government cuts mean HPBC needs to make savings of £2.7 million in addition to the £1m already planned through the Strategic Alliance by 2012/2013.

The Council states it is determined to protect front-line services and keep council tax increases to the minimum. There will be no increase in the Borough’s council tax in 2011/12.

Affected staff have been consulted and views will be taken into account. The final proposals will be considered as part of the budget process by the Corporate Select Committee, the Executive and full Council at the end of February and beginning of March.

Unions have been kept informed and consulted on the proposals. The comprehensive review is looking at all posts with management or supervisory responsibility. Recruitment to the 24 new service manager posts will take place between March and May. Efforts will be made to redeploy unsuccessful candidates, and staff redeployed to a less senior post will have their salary protected for three years.

The Council has invited applications for voluntary redundancy. Compulsory redundancy remains a last resort.