Dorset councils merger: Criticism of redundancy letters

Dorset County Council
Image caption Six councils are due to form a unitary council for Dorset

Warning letters sent to "shocked" council workers about possible redundancies have been criticised.

The new unitary Dorset Council said it had formally notified staff affected by the loss of 117, mainly managerial, posts when the county's six local authorities merge in April.

Unison and the Labour Party claim the process was not meant to start until after the new authority is created.

Dorset Council said it would "reduce duplication and management costs".

Dorset County County, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, Weymouth & Portland and West Dorset councils are due to form the new unitary council under plans to restructure local government.

A spokesperson for the shadow authority said the consultation would seek to limit compulsory redundancies through "vacancy management" and voluntary departures.

'Good news story'

A Unison member said staff were "infuriated and deeply shocked" by the move, reported the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Finance brief holder at the new council Tony Ferrari told January's county council cabinet meeting it was a "good news story" if job losses could be achieved earlier because it meant greater savings in the long term.

"With some activities the earlier we invest the earlier we make savings, giving us more money to spend on front line services," he said.

West Dorset Labour Party said the council was "disregarding all agreed protocols" on the restructuring by writing to about 200 members of staff.

"The employers are using the term "convergence" to justify the cut of a significant number of posts in advance of the structure of the new council being agreed.

"[Staff] have not been involved in any meaningful pre-consultation around the scope, the depth or rationale for the culling of so many posts."

Unison said it had contacted all its members who might be affected.

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