Council ditches staff payout

PUBLISHED: 08:58 02 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:30 25 May 2010

COUNCIL workers look set to lose out on contributions to extra travel costs if they are relocated from Weston to Clevedon.

COUNCIL workers look set to lose out on contributions to extra travel costs if they are relocated from Weston to Clevedon.

The Weston Mercury revealed earlier this month that the allowances for staff could be stopped from January.

It has now come to light that North Somerset Council executive member for finance, Councillor Tony Lake, is set to approve scrapping the payouts - just a day before the council move to Clevedon is set to be given the green light.

The initial announcement to staff went out to North Somerset Council officers in an email last month, shortly before news of a potential massive council move to Clevedon broke.

The payment, which would amount to about 10p for every extra mile travelled, would affect any new changes, but those who already receive the money would not lose out.

One disgruntled council worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "The move to end travel allowances for relocated workers in such a clandestine and underhand way is typical of the current leadership.

"They've snuck it through in an attempt to dupe employees and make sure we bear the cost of the commute, which will be considerable for lower paid staff who are already facing a 'real terms' pay cut next year.

"It shows that they've been planning this move all along, and as for consultation - what consultation?

"The first we heard about the change to travel expenses was from the union.

"The entire office move proposal is a disgrace and just a means for the long-established councillors to remain in power by boasting low increases in council tax while Weston continues to suffer.

"I hope the voting public sees through it at the next local election."

Unison, the union representing the council workers, has said it will argue that the payment is a contractual obligation and should still be paid to any staff if they have to move to Clevedon.

North Somerset branch secretary Helen Thornton says 1,100 jobs will come under scrutiny in Weston, but not all will be relocated.

A report put together by Cllr Lake argues that the cut to the travel allowance came after a consultation period and will yield savings of at least £14,000 a year.

He said: "If an employee is relocated to a new work place in North Somerset, the council will, wherever possible, take into account personal circumstances and will try to reach a mutually acceptable solution with individual employees.

"It is accepted that some employees will regrettably incur additional travel costs and time.

"However, it is anticipated that, in the event that a forced relocation occurs, some employees will also benefit from reduced travel costs and time."

The potential move to the former Clerical Medical site in Clevedon could be rubber stamped when the authority's full council considers it on Tuesday.

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