Registry merger could have ‘significant’ staff impact

PUBLISHED: 12:30 21 October 2015

Weston Town Hall.

Weston Town Hall.

Archant

PEOPLE could be facing a 60-mile round trip to pick up life records such as birth certificates if a council merger goes ahead.

Earlier this month the Mercury revealed North Somerset Council is investigating giving its registry service over to neighbouring Somerset County Council, including control of historical records and future records of births, deaths and marriages.

North Somerset staff were presented with a consultation document outlining the options on the table and the Mercury has got hold of a copy.

The document says the reasons behind the integration include ‘improving the resilience of both services’ and ‘to improve customer access and modernise systems’.

It also says ‘there could be opportunities to save money’ with the review, but it ‘could result in significant changes’ for the staff.

Senior managers from both authorities put together the consultation and are considering five options of varying integration.

The first option being considered is to set up a system where both authorities hold registers for one another to allow for cross-border declarations and staff sharing.

But the consultation document says: “A very small number of customers could benefit from a more convenient cross-border declaration process, however this is not expected to be significant.

“There is not expected to be any significant financial impact from this proposal – costs and savings are likely to be very small.”

Staff may also have to work across the two authorities.

In the second option, Somerset would just store all of North Somerset’s records – this would mean Weston customers have to travel to Taunton to pick up certificates.

If the council goes ahead with a full transfer, as the report recommends, staff from North Somerset will be managed by Somerset.

Staff working in admin and booking would likely be transferred to Taunton and, according to the report, ‘only permanent staff would be transferred’.

The report suggests the transfer could save £20,000 a year.

The online consultation closes today, but the final decision on the proposed merger will be at the North Somerset Council executive meeting on December 8.

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