Future of 44 NW civil servants in balance

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey says he doesn’t know exactly where 44 civil servants based at Orchard House in Londonderry are going to be redeployed when urban regeneration and community development powers transfer to local government in April 2016.

Earlier this year the Minister confirmed that almost fifty workers at the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) North West Development Office (NWDO) at Orchard House will become surplus labour next year.

Orchard House.

Orchard House.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton has now asked the Minister what impact the transfer of departmental functions to Derry City and Strabane District Council will have on the NWDO.

The Minister explained: “At a local level, the Department continues to work closely with Derry City and Strabane District Council on Transition Planning, which will help to ensure a smooth transfer.

“There are currently 44 staff in my Department’s North West Development Office. As the Department is transferring powers rather than functions, there will be no compulsory transfer of these staff to local councils.

“There may however be opportunities for staff to transfer to Councils on temporary secondment to support capacity building and business continuity, for a period of up to two years. Officials in my Department have written to Derry City and Strabane District Council, asking for any secondment requirements they may have.”

The Minister explained that if there is no room on the local Council’s payroll then the civil servants will have to be accommodated elsewhere within the Northern Ireland civil service.

“If no secondment opportunities arise, DSD staff working in this area will become surplus, and will be redeployed elsewhere in the NICS.

“While it is not possible at this stage to identify exactly where redeployment opportunities will be, my Department has offices throughout Northern Ireland, including the North West,” he explained: