Thorpe Lodge / Broadland District Council.

‘I’ve hated every single second thinking about my time in Broadland’ - staff and councillors’ anger as job cuts are delayed

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
6.30 AM

Stinging criticism was last night aimed at Conservative proposals to make job cuts by disbanding a council department – while a Tory cabinet member also announced her resignation.

Broadland District Council is working on plans to end its strategy, community and housing service just 12 months after it was created.

It had been expected the job losses, putting four staff members at risk, would be approved at last night’s full council meeting after the Tory cabinet last week backed the idea.

This was despite demands from staff and fellow councillors for more evidence explaining why the cuts were needed, in line with previous departmental changes.

But council leader Andrew Proctor announced amendments to the plan yesterday, with further research and discussions taking place.

A report is expected to be completed by January.

He also insisted this was not the “start of a redundancy programme” but did apologise that the review did not match previous “high standards” of working with staff.

Liberal Democrat motions, including delaying a decision until February to avoid the Christmas period hampering further research, plus allowing a panel of councillors to fully investigate the ideas, were rejected although they did attract support from Tory councillors.

Becky Tye, Unison branch secretary for Broadland, told the meeting there was no evidence to show the remaining staff had the training, time or expertise to take on the work from those people facing redundancy.

Speaking after the decision, Mrs Tye said: “It’s not necessarily a movement in the right direction but people are not going to start tomorrow knowing they are facing redundancy. They can face Christmas knowing they have jobs.”

John Emsell, Thorpe St Andrew South East Conservative, said: “I’ve been a councillor since I was elected in 2011 and I’ve enjoyed all my council time, all the meetings I’ve been too, all the times I’ve met with staff up until my attendance at a cabinet meeting on November 5.

“And since then I’ve hated every single second thinking about my time in Broadland. I am absolutely appalled with how we have handled this situation.”

The meeting began with the news Kim Davis-Claydon had stepped down from the Conservative group and her position as operations and resources portfolio holder.

No successor has been announced, with Mr Proctor explaining he will assess the roles.

Broadland’s changes to the strategy, community and housing department include moving almost all of the service’s 29 workers, whose duties include child protection and housing advice, to other council teams.

But four people, or three full-time equivalent jobs, are at risk as the council wants to reduce the number of staff dedicated to talking to, helping and training communities – known as community engagement.

It is proposed the Rackheath Community Trust will continue to receive three days support under the new arrangements.

Similar support is also suggested for Old Catton and Sprowston – due to Beyond Green’s plans for 3,520 houses – and Thorpe St Andrew.

richard.wheeler@archant.co.uk