Council’s green team streamlined to save £150,000

ASHFIELD District Council is set to make savings of more than £150,000 thanks to a restructure of its environmental services department as part of cost-cutting measures.

The decision, which was given the go-ahead at a Cabinet meeting, means that the two existing teams from the department will be merged and duplicated roles will be removed.

The department was established in 2008 and is made up of a green space and neighbourhood response team.

Each team covered different areas in the district, including Hucknall. But under the new scheme the teams will be merged.

A spokesman from the council said: “The work is ongoing but the new structure removes potential duplication and creates single-area teams, who will have responsibility for every aspect of the environment within their patch.

“The number of management and supervisory roles will reduce from ten to five, but by enabling and empowering our teams more fully, frontline environmental service quality should be maintained, with an annual saving of over £150,000 per year achieved.”

It is not yet clear whether the decision will signal compulsory redundancies.

The spokesman added: “A number of requests for voluntary redundancy are likely to be accepted through this process and any other employees displaced by the process will be subject to the council’s policies on redundancy and redeployment.”

The decision comes as the council, in line with other local authorities across the country, is cutting costs.

Speaking at the Cabinet meeting, head of neighbourhood services, Edd de Coverly, said: “The aim of this is to protect frontline services and hopefully deliver a better way of working at a time when there are financial restrictions on the country and in this authority as well.”

The decision was approved, despite concerns from public sector unions the GMB and Unison who, in the Cabinet report, said the plan was being put in place too quickly and the quality of parks, including Titchfield in Hucknall, could be put at risk.

Responding to this, council bosses said it needed to move quickly to ‘minimise uncertainty’ for workers and the idea behind the scheme was to protect the quality of the service for the future.

Five parks in Ashfield currently have Green Flag status, including Titchfield, Brierley Forest Park at Huthwaite, Portland and Kingsway in Kirkby and Sutton Lawn.