CLD move slammed
Opposition councillors have criticised a North Lanarkshire decision to reconfigure its community learning and development (CLD) service in a £1.4 million cost-saving move.
It will see the service being “fully integrated” with community partnership teams and the education and families service over two years; and will result in an overall reduction of 24 posts, with a further six being redeployed to early years provision.
CLD includes support workers, those specialising in adult literacy and numeracy, and youth engagement, Homelink and development officers; council officials say the move means “management will be reviewed, but frontline staff will be largely protected”.
They added that the new structure “has secured the future of vital CLD” and that the committee “rejected options which would have had significant impacts on frontline staff and service users and instead agreed an option to redesign the service”.
SNP members on the council’s policy and resources committee had requested that the decision be postponed until next month to allow for further consultation and the development of revised options; but the new structure was approved by 13 votes to 11.
Councillor Jordan Linden, a community development graduate, seconded the amendment put forward by SNP group leader and Airdrie Central councillor David Stocks calling for a delay to the decision.
He called the decision “incredibly disappointing” and said: “We asked for common sense to prevail, to pause and to consult with trade unions in order to get the decisions on the future of a vital and valued service right for the future.
“Instead, the Labour and Conservative parties joined together and supported this recommendation which sees £1.4 million reduction in spending on this service.”
He added: “I hope we will see swift reassurance to those impacted by the changes in community learning and development, and that it will be able to continue to deliver the high- quality service that it does to empower communities, individually and collectively.”
Depute council leader Paul Kelly said: “We are faced with very difficult decisions because of the savings we are being forced to find as a result of budget decisions at national level.
“Through no fault of its own, the council had to make substantial savings in this area; one option would have seen enormous cuts to frontline service delivery. We were not prepared to accept that, although I absolutely recognise that reviewing service management also has an impact on people.
“We were determined to find a solution which meant CLD would continue to be a priority, and I’m glad we have been able to achieve that in a way which means North Lanarkshire’s investment per head of population in CLD remains the highest in Scotland.
“I fully understand that this review, which has taken some time, has created uncertainty for staff and I believe that this outcome will reassure many of them. I would reiterate that this council has a policy of having no compulsory redundancies.”
Conservative group leader Meghan Gallacher added: “Our group took no pleasure in making this saving, but I was reassured by council officers when they advised that it was a management restructuring, frontline services would be minimally impacted [and] affected staff will be redeployed.”
She said of the SNP’s request to postpone the decision: “The excuse that four days was not enough time to look into the saving is nonsense – my group treated this paper as a priority, [and] this has also been an ongoing discussion since February.
“It shows the nationalists for what they are: fiscally irresponsible and unable to make difficult decisions. It is because of their own Scottish Government that we are having to plug a £21 million budget gap.”
Unhappy Councillor Linden has labelled the decision “incredibly disappointing”