CLD move slammed

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News -

JU­DITH TONNER

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”

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