Fears council jobs may be lost if shared services plan goes ahead

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East Dunbartonshire Council’s plans to share services with two other local authorities have come under fire.

The proposal to share services with Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire councils took a big step forward last week with the creation of a special committee.

But union officials are concerned about the possibility of job losses in East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC).

Tommy Robertson, the secretary of EDC’s Unison branch, said: “Our main concern is the possibility of job losses and we’d like to be involved in consultation for any proposals that may come out of the shared service proposal.”

Other councils have proposed to share just a few services but East Dunbartonshire has proposed that all services could potentially be shared.

Representatives from East Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire councils will sit on the Joint Committee, with the positions of chair and vice chair rotating every two years.

EDC will take on the role of chair and West Dunbartonshire the role of Vice Chair for the initial two-year period.

The elected members will consider what services could be reasonably shared and the framework for delivery.

Residents have already raised concerns about the proposals on social media.

Joe Mcguire said: “Imagine trying to get hold of the person responsible for something. The council constantly blame other departments so they will be able to blame another authority and nothing will ever get done.”

Mark Sinclair added: “MORE council cutbacks. Moving towards centralisation again. Was that not Strathclyde Regional Council once upon a time? Why don’t we just call ourselves that again?

EDC Council Leader Rhondda Geekie, who will chair the first Joint Committee Meeting, said: “We have established the principle of working towards sharing services to deliver the efficiencies that such an approach can achieve, and agreeing the governance arrangements is the next step on the journey.

“We are now looking at the data we hold across all three councils with a view to developing business cases in those areas where we feel the potential for sharing services can deliver the benefits and efficiencies we aspire to.”

A possible framework for shared council services was originally included in the Arbuthnott Report in 2009

Discussions involving a total of seven councils were started in 2011, with North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde and West and East Dunbartonshire all taking part. Only the three councils now remain.

Inverclyde Council leader, councillor Stephen McCabe, said: “Working in partnership with other public services is the right thing to do where it helps to ensure more efficient delivery of essential services to our community.

“This is an important next step in examining clearly and sensibly the way forward. It is crucial that the local needs of each of the three councils are taken into account and that each council has a say in the future direction of shared service.”

West Dunbartonshire Council leader Martin Rooney said: “This innovative partnership offers us the opportunity to share our assets across Council boundaries so we make the most of all our combined skills, talent, knowledge and equipment. I’m encouraged to see the progress being made and believe smart approaches such as this can help to protect key services for residents.”

A working group of trade union and management representation from the councils will meet regularly to discuss developments.

Shared road maintenance services received the backing of Audit Scotland earlier this year, which said it was part of “urgent action” needed to maintain road conditions at current levels and lead to savings of up to £30m a year.