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‘Future Guildford’ Transformation Project Approved Unanimously by GBC Executive

Published on: 20 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 20 Feb, 2019

The Guildford Borough Council (GBC) Executive voted unanimously last night (February 19, 2019) to approve “Future Guildford”, the proposal put forward to close the forecasted £10m funding gap and to transform the way the council provides its services.

See also: Redundancies to be Considered to Make Ends Meet at GBC

The proposal is said to involve redundancies of up to 100 of the 700 council staff. But councillors from across the parties present in the chamber voiced broad agreement to the Executive’s approach. The proposal still requires approval in full council but it is unlikely to be effectively opposed.

James Whiteman

The proposals state that as many council activities as possible are moved to “self-serve” and that there needs to be a significant investment in IT.

Outsourcing of council services including “waste, street cleansing, community services and parks and countryside” is also to be considered.

In a statement issued today, James Whiteman, the council’s managing director and head of paid service, said: “Future Guildford is the most far-reaching proposal to transform the way our council works.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

“It is informed through the use of external management consultants, working together with our staff, and will potentially involve changes to systems, structures, services, the size of our organisation and our culture.”

Cllr Reeves, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at GBC, referred to the £10m funding gap and said: “It would be sad if this became a political decision. It is something that we have got to do. We don’t want to end up like Surrey County Council.”

Cllr Tony Rooth

Implementing the proposals, she said, “will be traumatic for some and hard work.”

Cllr Rooth, leader of GBC’s Independent Alliance, said: “The Independent Alliance councillors do support the project in principle.

“Other authorities are listed as being used by Ignite. We need to know not only what the promises and prospects are (for the other local authorities) but the performance.”

Cllr Angela Gunning

Cllr Gunning, leader of the Labour group at Millmead referred to the “parlous state of the IT” and said: “Comprehensive training will help with the efficiency” of the new processes and updated IT.

In 2017 Unison South East, the public service union who represent staff at the council, criticised Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) who also used consultants Ignite. On their website, an article written at the time is headlined: “UNISON Sounds Warning Over Council Change Programme”. Wokingham council’s programme is said to have involved the loss of 150 jobs.

In a Wokingham Paper article “Union accuses WBC council of 21st Century Failure”, published in July 2017,  Unison criticised the council for their, ‘failure to significantly reduce senior management posts meaning lower graded staff will bear the brunt of redundancies”.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS asked Unison for their views on the Future Guildford initiative and the likely redundancies. No response had been received at the time of publication.

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