Hartfield and Crosslet Road

The old Hartfield School and Clinic buildings, which later became Dumbarton Academy, off Latta Street and Crosslet Road in Dumbarton.

By Democrat reporter

It has emerged over the festive period that Hartfield Clinic in Latta Street, Dumbarton, has been chosen for a new and permanent headquarters for West Dunbartonshire Council’s social work department.

Social workers, however, have renewed their strike ballot to keep pressure on the SNP administration to fix the service in West Dunbartonshire.

They claimed it was broken when the Council decided to switch the Alexandria office to Aurora House in Dumbarton Road, Clydebank, and social workers said the space allocated to them in the Council headquarters in the old Dumbarton Burgh Hall was “inappropriate” for their confidential work. They deemed it unfit for purpose.

Unison members in the children and families unit voted overwhelmingly for a strike as they continue to fight for more staff and space to work on both sides of the local authority.

West Dunbartonshire Council said “significant progress” had been made since the union first voted to strike back in May.

Unison said 98.8 per cent of those balloted voted for a strike. The union said this fit with a Scottish survey recently that found 76 per cent of workers claimed they didn’t have enough staff, and 90 per cent were considering leaving their job.

UNISON logoA spokesperson for Unison’s West Dunbartonshire branch told Tristan Stewart-Robertson of the Dumbarton Reporter: “This is a stronger mandate from our members in comparison to the first industrial action ballot earlier this year where our members initially voted to take industrial action, which is evidence that members feel further dissatisfied with progress made.

“Management must heed this crystal clear message from our members, who are at breaking point, beyond goodwill and at-risk children remain unsupported. Unison calls on all parties to work together with a view to seeking an acceptable resolution timeously.”

Concerns were raised repeatedly in 2019 warning that there could be “child tragedy” with resources stretched.

Social workers also warned for months about the effect of closing their Alexandria base and merging two social work teams into Clydebank’s Aurora House.

Though the number of children waiting to be allocated social workers remains more than 140 as of November, it has dropped from 250 earlier in 2019. It is not the same children on a static waiting list.

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council responded: “Significant progress has been made working with our trade union colleagues to jointly identify and implement measures to enhance social work services through increasing staffing and addressing workloads.

“In addition, we have created new interim office and contact space in Dumbarton and have also now identified a permanent base within Hartfield Clinic.

“We remain committed to resolving the matter and our focus remains on providing every support to the children and families in our community who need our help most.”

Neither the Council nor anyone from the SNP administration would comment to The Dumbarton Democrat.

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