I want to praise Boston Borough Council staff for all they have done to safeguard services. There has been a recent 100 per cent voluntary sign-up to changes in terms and conditions.
We do appreciate that, as an interim measure, staff at the council agreed to incremental progression freeze and other changes. We had all hoped at that time, in 2010 and 2011, when this was discussed and agreed, that the economic situation would improve and therefore the financial position of the council would also improve.
As everyone is aware the continued economic difficulties have impacted severely on the public sector and local government and this will only worsen into the future rather than improve.
However, much has been achieved in the most difficult circumstances of the past few years and none of this would have been possible if the staff had not been willing to work with us.
We are lucky in having staff with an understanding of the difficult financial position the council is in and who are committed to doing all they can to help the council meet the challenges which this long period of austerity has brought.
It was only after a long period of consideration and with a heavy heart and our backs to the wall that we asked staff to again consider a change in their terms and conditions as one of many initiatives to help the council save much-needed cash. The alternatives to this may have meant some compulsory redundancies and reductions in services to residents. We did not want to have to do either of these.
So I am grateful that we have not had to do either. Staff voted with their hearts and their minds and every single one of our 296 employees voluntarily accepted the proposed changes. This selfless action has not passed unnoticed by elected members.
There was a public report about this, but some express details regarding labour relations have to remain private – no one would expect negotiations with staff and unions to be conducted in the public domain.
I would be interested to see the evidence the three Labour councillors have for making the claim that staff morale is at an all-time low. The facts are that, with staff support, we have, unlike some other councils, avoided having to make large-scale redundancies.
The changes are an important part of the council’s bid to make more than £1.1 million of necessary savings over the next four to five years, preserve services and avoid the need to undertake large-scale redundancies.
Coun Peter Bedford
Boston Borough Council leader