Councillors approve cost-cutting deal with staff

HOPES of avoiding ‘large-scale’ job cuts at Boston Borough Council are being voiced after councillors approved changes to staff arrangements.

The full council ratified on Wednesday a staff vote to accept a package of money-saving terms and conditions in the wake of Government funding cuts.

However, the debate was held in private, after members of the public and press were excluded from the council chamber as well as an earlier meeting of the cabinet.

The Standard appealed to the cabinet to debate the matter in public, arguing the public interest in discussing it openly outweighed the public interest in holding it in private.

Coun Anne Dorrian of the Better Boston Group cited the Human Rights Act, stating under this there is a ‘presumption’ such meetings be heard in public. She argued this superseded the Local Government Act, which allows for matters relating to ‘labour relations’ be held behind closed doors.

Chief executive Richard Harbord disagreed.

“I do not think that is a proper argument,” he told Coun Dorrian.

In terms of public interest, he said staff were being ‘fully involved’ in the process and made the offer of a press briefing.

On Friday, in a joint statement, Coun Brenda Owen and Coun Richard Lenton said: “Although it has been necessary to make alterations in conjunction with staff to terms and conditions, the efficiency measures already taken have placed us in a better position than most other authories. It is the combination of these measures and forward planning that should avoid the immediate need for large-scale redundancies.”

The councillors finished by thanking staff for their help.