A furious row has broken out between the leader of the council and the GMB union over a shake-up of Brighton and Hove City Council’s senior management team, which could save more than £200,000 a year – but which the union says does not go far enough.
A proposed redesign of council departments means the council will need one fewer executive director and three fewer assistant directors. But the GMB union says the remaining six executive directors is still too much.
At issue is the creation of a new neighbourhood, communities and housing directorate, with an executive director on a six-figure salary to head it.
A flurry of angry tweets were sent by the union to council leader Warren Morgan over the weekend – and Cllr Morgan accused GMB of opposition to Labour’s neighbhourhoods agenda, which involves volunteers and the third sector.
GMB Sussex branch secretary Mark Turner said: “What we have issue about is the creation of a post on a six figure salary of a department smaller than Cityclean, Cityparks and the waste PFI combined, under an assistant director.
“As councillors may be aware, there are authorities of similar sizes as Brighton and Hove or bigger, that only have three direct reports to the chief exec. The chief exec is now proposing we have six.
“Under the current economic climate and given the level of cuts that the public are facing, along with our members having to deliver the same services with less resources, the senior management team is not taking a 30% cut as others are, and we would expect that it would be setting the example by taking their fair share of the pain that residents, your electorate and our members are having to take as well.”
He added: “I do need to be perfectly clear on behalf of both trade unions in that we do not have any issues with the manifesto commitment by the minority administration, Labour, on their approach involving the neighbourhood and the community, I need to be clear on this as there has been over the previous days, wild accusations that we do.”
However Cllr Morgan said that chief executive Geoff Raw was simply working within the budget for his senior management team approved by full council in February, which will save £2million in management costs over the next three years.
And a decision due to be made at the city council’s policy and resources committee on Thursday – which originally sparked the row – was about how committee delegations are made should the proposals go ahead.
He said: “We are reducing top level management, not increasing it, and we are saving almost two million over the next three years in management costs overall.
“The Government is cutting £168 million out of our funding to provide services to local residents, and every part of the council will be hit from top to bottom, the boardroom to the front-line.
“Residents will be paying more for less and that is directly the result of Conservative Government policy. We are implementing innovative solutions and finding new ways to fund and deliver what services we can in partnership with neighbourhoods, the voluntary and community sector, local businesses and others in the public sector across the city.”
Under Mr Raw’s proposals, which staff and unions are still being consulted over, the existing six departments would be reduced to five, with public health merged with adult services to create a health, wellbeing & adults department, and children’s services being rebranded families, learning and children’s.
Housing would be moved from the environment department to te new neighbourhood, communities and housing, and the renamed environment, economy and transport department would take on property services, while retaining culture, development and transport.
The legal department would take on communications, life events, partnerships, performance and policy.
The assistant chief executive post, currently filled by Paula Murray who is on a six-month secondment to Croydon Council, would be deleted.
The changes have been made in the wake of the retirement of two directors. Director of adult services Denise D’Souza is set to retire in August, and director of public health Tom Scanlon retired last month.