Jobs fear at council

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FRESH jobs fears were raised in Doncaster today as top level talks got under way which could see key council departments merged with those in Rotherham.

Mayor Peter Davies is due to make a decision on Wednesday on whether to agree to start formal talks with his counterparts in Rotherham.

It is understood initial talks would look at sharing human resources functions such as payroll.

In the past, councillors have also raised the possibility of departments such as legal services and information technology being shared with neighbouring councils.

Wednesday’s decision will be made as part of a cabinet meeting which is due to be held behind closed doors.

Any negotiations between the two councils are expected to last for several months.

The plans are the latest in a line of proposals as the council looks to save more than £70 million to make the books balance following Government spending cuts.

So far the council has shed around 700 jobs, mostly through early retirement and voluntary redundancies.

But unions have raised fears that the final figure for job losses could be as high as 2,000.

Jim Board, the branch secretary for the Doncaster local government section of the public sector workers union Unison, said he was aware that talks were going on over the possible sharing of services.

He said there had been suggestions in the past that some town planning functions may be shared with Bassetlaw.

He said: “We know there are talks about the possibility of joint services. The obvious concern is it will have an effect on jobs, as they are clearly doing this to make savings, and we do have concerns on that basis.

“The unions have yet to be consulted on this.

“They will say they have not made a decision yet, but our view is there should be discusses with staff before a decision is made.”

Doncaster Council chief executive Rob Vincent confirmed the matter would be discussed at next week’s cabinet meeting.

He said: “As part of our budget reductions we are looking at all the options for delivering our services in the best way possible for local people.

“This may include providing them in a different way by sharing with other local authorities for instance sharing systems such as finance or IT to achieve economies of scale.

“We are primarily looking at these options for our back office functions.

“We will also be looking for reciprocal arrangements so the balance of job opportunities between authorities is not upset.

“No decision has been made,” he added.