Council backs cuts to manager posts
LOCAL councillors have rubber-stamped a shake-up of Derry City Council that will see a number of management posts shaved from the local authority payroll in order to save money, the Sentinel can reveal.
Councillors have agreed to move forward with the next stage of the Council’s Management Reorganisational Review.
Rationalisation at the local authority was first mooted by former Town Clerk Valerie Watts, who authored a 2009 Transforming Derry City Council report, which was a blueprint she claimed would involve management restructuring only and would not affect front line services or lower grades in any shape or form.
Now the baton has been passed to the current incumbent Sharon O’Connor, who said the shake-up was necessary to improve efficiency and save money.
Ms O’Connor explained that the report proposes a number of changes to the Councils current management structure and will be implemented on a phased approach over the coming weeks and months in full consultation with unions and employees.
“The purpose of the report is to ensure that ratepayers in the Derry City Council area get quality and efficient public services. Derry City Council is committed to improving its service delivery and getting the right people in the right jobs.
“The change process announced this week is not specifically about cost cutting but about delivering efficient and best value services to local residents as we prepare for the Review of Public Administration (RPA),” she said.
Ms O’Connor said the process of change was necessary in the current economic climate as local government across Ireland and the UK are similarly going through a period of change and facing new challenges.
Ms O’Connor said the implementation of the Management Reorganisational Review was a key priority for the Council and was fully endorsed by elected members. She said the changes would be progressed in full consultation with employees and their union representatives.
The Sentinel was unable to confirm how far Ms O’Connor’s ‘review’ followed Ms Watts’ ‘transformation’ but the shake-up is known to be a continuation of the same management rationalisation process.
Ms Watts’ original report of 2009 envisaged 20 management posts valued at £800,000 being shaved off the council payroll.
Crucially she envisaged the slashing of management positions being achieved solely through voluntary redundancies and natural turnover or wastage. There where to be no compulsory redundancies, she promised.
But Ms Watts had wanted the management restructure to take place before 2011. It didn’t and Ms Watts left the Council for Aberdeen last year.
Mrs Watts said she had encountered a public perception of Derry City Council as inefficient, since taking up the Town Clerk’s post in 2008.
Under Ms Watts’ plan Derry City Council was supposed to be restructured with three directorates replacing seven existing departments.
A Director of Environment and Infrastructure, Director of Corporate Services and a Director of Culture, Business, Community Services were supposed to be created to be supported by two heads of service.
She said key planks in her transformation strategy were social justice and the development of a sustainable economy.
It is unclear how far Ms O’Connor intends following her predecessors plans.
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