Memorandum by Herefordshire UNISON (LAG
LOCAL AUTHORITY GOVERNANCE AND INDUSTRIAL
I understand you are collating evidence on the
experience of new forms of political management and I would like
to offer our views in respect of their effect on Industrial Relations.
Our branch represents 2,600 employees, the majority
of whom are employed by Herefordshire Council, a Council which
was "born" out of Local Government re-organisation in
March 1998. Herefordshire is an amalgamation, in whole or part
of five previous Authorities and our industrial relations processes
very much continued out of these and have evolved as both the
personnel Dept and ourselves adapted to a new entity.
Just over 12 months ago, Herefordshire embarked
on a new governance structure (well in advance of the Local Government
Act requirements) principally adopting a Cabinet system backed
by a system or Review and Monitoring Committees.
From an industrial relations perspective the
experience has been one of distancing accessor certainly
a perception of suchof employee concerns from the executive
Whilst still having a Local Joint Staff Committee
(JJC) as final arbiter, meeting with members on a quarterly basis
there is certainly a feeling that any "clout" has been
lost. Previously we reported direct to a Personnel Committee which
was a properly constituted committeeoften being chaired
by a senior Councillorand reports went direct to full Council.
Now, without a Personnel Committee, our concerns
seem to be lost as only part of another layer of non related Panels/Committees
who in turn feed into Cabinet. With no direct access members and
staff have been seriously dis-empowered, decisions and representations
inevitably entering a longwinded reporting procedure where any
immediacy is lost. None of our JCC members are Cabinet members
despite a political ruling coalition of Lib/Lab/Ind. Currently
as well as going through ward boundary review, the Authority is
also consulting on three "options" for the future (ie
Mayor/Leader/Status Quo) and early results show that there will
be no change ie Leader of Council Cabinet as now with no "add
To sum up the feelings of distance and lack
of direct Executive accessas beforeare still paramount.
Whether this is as a result of the actual nuts and bolts of the
new structure or a consequence of it remains to be seen.