Partnership deals aim to protect jobs

North Tyneside Council's Quadrant headquarters.

North Tyneside Council's Quadrant headquarters.

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HUNDREDS of council staff face losing their job unless some services are outsourced in a new partnership agreement, a senior official has revealed.

Cabinet members at North Tyneside Council are set to rubber stamp plans at their meeting on Monday to move ahead with plans to set up an arrangement with some outside companies.

The move would see a number of staff transferred to the new partners, although they would remain at their council bases.

Mayor Linda Arkley said without the move it could result in 360 employees losing their jobs as the authority looks to balance its books.

The proposals were discussed by members of the council’s overview and scrutiny meeting on Monday, who will feedback any findings to cabinet.

Speaking ahead of next week’s meeting, Mrs Arkley said: “I’m delighted we’re taking this partnership forward with our external providers.

“We’ve worked hard over the last year with all parties being involved in it.

“This will allow us to retain our great services and our fantastic staff.

“This is an alternative way of thinking and a number of other councils are already working like this.

“If we don’t go down this route it will cost the council £314,000 a month.”

The contracts, worth around £200m, will be in place for 15 years, and Mrs Arkley says are a way of safeguarding council services and staff while bringing in much needed funds.

“This will allow the companies to retain all our staff and we’re going to have investment in the council,” she said.

But Labour councillors have hit out at the proposals, saying they have not been consulted on the plans, which will be formally approved by seven cabinet members and not the full council of 60 members.

Group leader Coun Jim Allan said: “It’s all being done behind closed doors.

“We’ve indicated that we weren’t happy with the way things were progressing without our involvement, including the Liberal Democrats.

“We’ve been excluded from the whole process.

“The Conservatives are also rushing this through, it’s being steamrollered along.”

However, Mrs Arkley hit back saying that both opposition parties had attended meetings on the plans and were given an opportunity to have their say.

“The only alternative proposal put forward by either party to save money was to reduce the working hours of staff, which unions were against,” she said.

A council spokesperson added: “The partnership with external providers is the best solution for the council, its taxpayers, its staff and the borough.

“The plans have been in development for over a year and all political parties have been briefed.

“During the process, which is driven by the need to achieve significant efficiencies within stringent time scales, the council has explored a number of alternatives.

“Shared services with neighbouring authorities would not have delivered the level of services required. The in-house option would have resulted in the loss of over 300 jobs.

“The partnership options we are looking at is by far the most advantageous for North Tyneside. It will enable the council to invest in services, protect employee jobs and deliver further growth and investment for the borough.”