£80,000 a year official appointed before council merger deal is agreed
The Burgh Hall where the merger talks will take place today (Friday) at 2pm.
By Bill Heaney
Council workers in West Dunbartonshire were shocked to discover this week that proposals to merge services with other authorities in Inverclyde and East Dunbartonshire were back on the table.
And that they will be discussed this afternoon at tripartite talks in the council offices in Dumbarton Burgh Hall in Church Street.
Trade unionists were stunned to learn that an official had already been appointed to oversee the proposed measure at a cost of around £100,000 a year – despite the fact that there appears to be no agreement on what her job will involve.
The unions were certain that the proposal had been kicked down the road after they protested against a roads and transport merger with the Greenock council at the end of last year.
It would appear now, however, that all service provision will be shared eventually.
And the Scottish government will embark on local government boundary changes which could be completed within the next three years.
A report from Angela Wilson, pictured left, Strategic Director, Transformation and Public Service Reform for West Dunbartonshire Council, will be placed before today’s meeting, which union members claim has been sprung on them.
It is headed: Future Joint Collaboration West Dunbartonshire Council, Inverclyde Council and East Dunbartonshire Council.
Ms Wilson says the purpose of this report is to update the committee of progress to identify potential opportunities for joint collaboration and asks for it to be noted.
She added: “To date, members will be aware that the focus was on the development and implementation of joint working across roads services.
“The recent appointment of a shared head of service across Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire Councils will enable the development of further strategic options appraisal for the remaining environmental and neighbourhood front line service areas namely:
* Grounds and greenspace
* Waste and environmental services
* Fleet and transportation
These are big and contentious issues here in West Dunbartonshire which have caused considerable controversy over the past year.
The outcry forced the SNP’s Tory-back administration to do a U-turn on the first and then Greenlight went bust throwing the waste and environmental services into chaos before Christmas.
The only criticism of the transport provision we have seen is in regard to criticism of the chauffeur and car service provided for chief officials.
But that is minor compared with the others, although it continues to draw flak from the electorate.
Ms Wilson states: “Joint working and collaboration continues to be an important priority for all three councils.
“The Chief Executives [Joyce White, pictured, holds that position in WDC] have established a regular meeting with the aim to explore further joint working opportunities.
“Consequently some early investigative work has commenced among wider the senior officer group with a view to developing strategic options appraisals.
“Following this investigative work, where options are appropriate to consider further, officers will develop detailed business cases.
“The normal process for elected member approval across the Councils will be followed, as well as full consultation and joint working with the Trades Union (sic).”
Surprisingly, Ms Wilson states there is no options appraisal required with this report and that there are no “people implications”.
And also that there are no financial and procurement implications.
She added: “There is no requirement to undertake a risk analysis at this time.
“An E qualities Impact Assessment is not required for this report and there are no environmental implications. Consultation is not required.
“Joint working supports the delivery of Council’s strategic priorities of the Council.”