Councillors have raised concerns over proposals to delete job roles at the authority that have been “vacant for a period of time.”
A Thanet council budget deficit of £691,000 has been forecast for the 2022/23 financial year, with plans to plug the gap including the deletion of vacant job roles and a senior management restructure.
Staff savings identified to date include £280k from the removal of vacant staff posts and £25k from other staffing changes such as agreed reduction in hours. Additionally there could be a £100,000 saving with the senior management restructure.
But councillors voiced worries over the deletion of roles in waste and open spaces.
Green councillor Tricia Austin said: “I am worried about the deletion of some of the roles we have found hard to fill, particularly in services like waste and open spaces because that is going to adversely affect the experience of residents and we already have difficulties, and I know managers are already struggling to cover those services.”
Cllr Austin suggested more maintenance contracts could be drawn up with parish and town councils and voluntary groups. She also raised the idea of the council’s senior management team taking a temporary voluntary reduction in salary but chief executive Madeline Homer said this would not be under consideration as positions needed to be attractive to retain staff and salaries were already lower than comparable authorities.
Cllr Steve Albon also raised concerns about deleting waste operative posts, particularly the 10 environmental operative posts created in the previous budget – five of which have been filled but five remaining vacant.
He said: “I am hoping the other five posts that weren’t filled are not going to be got rid of. I think it is extremely important they are retained and filled.
“In each of our public consultations the response from the public is in relation to waste, recycling and keeping our streets clean. The environmental operatives were put there to enable us to impact on the issues that are raised by residents in specific area, such as flytipping etc, and which we could react to. I am very concerned about that and my Labour colleagues are concerned, we could not support the budget if that happens.”
He also highlighted the budget proposal to put in £402,000 to waste while axing roles and how this might be perceived.
Finance portfolio holder Cllr David Saunders said the proposals are put forward by budget holders and he had to accept that. He said it was disappointing the roles had not been filled.
Chief executive Madeline Homer added: “These are proposals at this stage which we are seeking Cabinet support for. Just to remind people from a staffing perspective obviously that’s my remit as head of paid service so ultimately I make the decisions around what resources we need as an organisation to deliver the services we have.”