Settling Brighton and Hove bin strike to cost hundreds of thousands

Posted On 26 Jul 2013 at 5:55 am

Resolving the dispute with Brighton and Hove’s striking binmen and street cleaners will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The estimate was revealed by Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat in an interview this week.

Councillor Kitcat told Greg Hadfield, editorial director of the Brighton and Hove Independent, that the council may also have to make more staff redundant in the next financial year.

Details of the interview are reported in today’s issue (Friday 26 July) of the Brighton and Hove Independent.

The estimated cost of meeting the full demands of the GMB, which represents the binmen and street cleaners at Cityclean’s Hollingdean depot, was about £24 million.

Councillor Kitcat said: “That was the cost of a ‘no detriment’ solution in line with some of the public discourse but that’s nowhere near the cost. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands.

“It’s not completed yet. The consultation with staff will carry on until 5 August. There are still more conversations to be had. The unions will have until the end of August to respond.

Councillor Jason Kitcat

Councillor Jason Kitcat

“We won’t actually put in place the final agreement until 1 October. So there’s a lot more work to be done.”

When the consultation period started, Cityclean crews walked out on an unofficial strike. A five-day formal strike followed.

This week the GMB said this week that members had agreed to revised proposals which also meant changes to working patterns.

The revelations came as Councillor Kitcat, the Green council leader, spoke about the challenges of trying to save more than £23 million from the council’s £750 million budget next year.

Councillor Kitcat said: “We need to reduce our spending by £23.6 million for the next financial year.”

He said that the council had to find savings of £20 million to £25 million a year until 2019 by which time its central government funding would have been reduced by about 60 per cent.

He said: “We are one of the worst-cut authorities in the country and definitely the worst-cut in our region.

“It’s not just about the government’s cuts to our funding. It’s also about growing demand. It’s a kind of two-pronged pressure.

“We’ve got less money coming in but also greater demand. People are living longer. We also have a baby boom going on, so greater demand for school places.

“We have 800 services we provide and we are committed in this year to looking at all those services to say: ‘What’s the best way that we can provide them? And do those services need to continue as council services? Can we find other ways of doing them?’

“Some of them may change. Some of them we’ll do the same as before but more efficiently.

“An example is putting children into care. If it’s done through an external agency, the costs can be more than double than if we did it through in-house foster carers.”

He called for greater freedom for councils, saying: “The fact that England is the last part of the United Kingdom to have any genuine meaningful devolution is a matter of considerable concern.”

He ruled out a referendum on the level of council tax, saying that it was costly and unworkable.

Instead, he urged the public to get involved in the council’s budget-setting process before the final decisions were made next February.

 

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