Labour accused of opposing SGC bureaucracy cuts

Local Conservatives are claiming that opposition councillors are fighting against moves to reduce the number of directors at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC).

Press release from the Conservative Group on SGC

As part of a council-wide restructuring, it has been estimated that £175k will be saved if the council’s Planning & Transport department merges with the Communities department to form an all-encompassing ‘Place’ department headed by one director, rather than two.

The £175k saving equals the costs of a director and secretary post.

Back in October, the Council’s Conservative Cabinet proposed moving from five departments to three, including merging the Planning & Transport and Communities departments to form a ‘Place’ department.

But the plans were formally challenged by the Labour Group with the Liberal Democrat Group initially opposing the plans too.

Since then, the Director of Planning & Transport has retired and the secretary position has also become vacant.

And so at a recent joint meeting of the authority’s Planning & Transport and Communities Scrutiny Committees, Conservative councillors again made the case for the vacant posts to be deleted as part of moves to save money and help protect and improve the delivery of frontline services. But this was opposed by the Labour Committee Chair.

It has also been revealed that council staff are in favour of moving to one department to ensure services are better joined-up.

Cllr Colin Hunt (Con, Emersons Green), Conservative spokesman on the Planning & Transport Committee, said:

“I made the point at the committee meeting that we needed to hurry up and reduce the number of director posts so we can not only free up the resources needed to protect frontline services and further improve their performance, but also bring some stability to an organisation that is understandably going through a lot of change at the moment.

But Conservative councillors again came up against fierce Labour resistance.

Labour councillors need to stop being the cheerleaders of big council bureaucracy and instead get on the side of hard-pressed residents who want to see key frontline services protected and made even better.

The £175k saved by deleting these empty posts will form an important part of the council’s contribution to paying off Labour’s debt.”

The Council’s three highest paid employees, including the Chief Executive, have already taken 5 per cent pay cuts, saving £20k a year.

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council


One comment

  • Andy Perkins

    Labour Group is aware that South Gloucestershire Conservatives have issued a press release in which they falsely accuse us of opposing a departmental merger and suggesting that we are the “cheerleaders of big council democracy”.

    The opposite is true. Labour Group was directly asked by the Chief Executive on 18 July for our view on moving to two departments (merging Planning and Communities). On 22 July Group Leader Councillor Andy Perkins responded with Labour’s position. This was “a move to one department is appropriate”.

    Labour Group has previously opposed aspects of the Tory Administration’s “vision”, because of what it suggested about outsourcing services and changing staff conditions. The vision report contained NO firm proposals about merging departments, as now suggested by the Tories. (Read the report itself for confirmation:

    The real story here is that the ruling Conservatives do no want to make decisions through the published public processes. Labour councillors will continue to make the decision makers accountable. It is clearly making them uncomfortable.