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Councillors slammed for raising fears

Selkirkshire councillors Michelle Ballantyne and Vicky Davidson

Selkirkshire councillors Michelle Ballantyne and Vicky Davidson

Selkirkshire councillors Michelle Ballantyne and Vicky Davidson were accused of causing “unnecessary anxiety” at a meeting last week.

The pair raised the hackles of Councillor Michael Cook, executive member for HR and corporate improvement, after voicing concerns about the early retirement of five senior SBC staff.

Councillor Ballantyne questioned the value for money aspect of the early retirement of a corporate director, an acting director and three heads of service, at a cost of £534,000, as well as the loss of their experience.

“We were told that as part of the restructuring we would not lose all senior staff in one go ... but it seems we are looking at losing a lot of experience in one go, when we are facing serious transformation, and there will be a loss of leadership.”

She added: “We are spending a lot of money letting experienced, competent people go, only to recruit new people in slightly differently-titled posts. Why spend money doing that when we could be delivering services?”

Councillor Davidson called for a more in-depth risk assessment to be carried out before members considered the early retirement of the five.

“We are losing five experienced members of staff who have contributed a lot, and it is costing us over £500,000.”

She added that there would be “inevitable disruption” from their departure.

However, in response to their comments, Councillor Cook said: “You are generating an anxiety that is completely unnecessary.”

Council chief executive Tracey Logan added: “We will allow these people to leave the council when it is appropriate and when we have replacements in place.

“No skills gap will be allowed to materialise.”

Annual savings of more than £500,000 will be made through the early retirements, which were approved.

Under the restructuring of senior jobs, four corporate directors are being replaced by two depute chief executives and 19 heads of service are being cut to 12 service director posts.

Affected staff were advised of their options and asked if they wished to apply for voluntary severance or early retirement.

 

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