Employees at Horsham District Council lobbied councillors last week shortly before they were updated on the plans to change the staff’s employment terms and conditions.
At last month’s Personnel Committee about 70 staff packed into the council chamber - and there was overspill in the Capitol Theatre next door - to hear members agree that in consultation with staff and the unions, the council will be making changes to their contracts. These changes include substantially reducing car allowances and redundancy pay and also start charging for the use of the staff car park.
The move is part of a transformation programme affecting all areas of the council aimed at delivering a total of £1.25m savings, needed to plug a £2.6m deficit.
A 90 day consultation is currently under way during which all staff members are able to raise their concerns about how the changes will affect them.
At Wednesday’s full council meeting (February 13), members heard from chairman of the Personnel Committee Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) that since last month’s meeting when councillors agreed to consult about making these changes, there have been several productive drop-in sessions with staff at different Horsham District Council sites and all heads of services are having one to one meetings with their teams.
She said: “The consultation process has been genuine. All members will see every single comment (from staff).”
She pointed out there was a terms and conditions consultation website where she encouraged all members to look at comments in order to make an informed decision.
But several councillors raised concern for the staff at this time.
David Skipp (LDem, Roffey North) said: “Morale is quite low and I think we are very free with our comments about our staff and how good they are. I think we should be taking the staff seriously.”
David Sheldon (LDem Denne) asked: “What plans are in place to mitigate large numbers of staff leaving?”
Chief executive Tom Crowley told members the council remains hopeful an agreement with staff and unions will be reached and they were ‘not predicting when the report will come back to Personnel Committee’ to ensure all the consultation and negotiation has taken place.
The Personnel Committee is due to meet next on March 13 at 5.30pm, where it is expected staff and councillors will be updated on the progress of the consultation.