The branch has called on Aberdeenshire council to delay any final decision on the proposal to move to a leisure and culture trust until the final financial position is known following the Scottish Government spending review in December and the formal outcome of the Barclay Review, which may remove the current entitlement to non-domestic rates relief.
The proposals would see all Aberdeenshire’s sports facilities and libraries outsourced to a trust run by a board of trustees. It will be considered at Full Council on 23rd November 2017.
If the proposals do go ahead the branch is calling for robust protections for workers, many of which the council has not yet agreed.
The Branch has written to all councillors and community councils detailing our concerns.
Branch secretary, Inez Kirk said, “UNISON believes that to go ahead at this time – prior to the Scottish Government budget allocation – would be unwise.
“This would leave the council open to unknown costs which could have major unplanned risks/consequences on the council and delivery of services.
“To go ahead – knowing that the costs of doing so could be increased rather than savings – can only mean that the services, or the council as a whole, would need to reduce spending in other areas. This, on top of an already anticipated reduction in financial settlement, could lead to a greater service reduction across these and other council services.
“The council must also consider the costs of taking these services back in house, should in future a decision be made that the trust model is not suitable, and the impact that could have on the councils’ finances and future delivery of services,” Inez warned.
UNISON has had – and continues to have – concerns about the proposals and the potential benefits that are believed to arise from adopting a trust as a model for delivering these services. UNISON has a great deal of experience elsewhere in Scotland and Britain with regards to the adoption of trusts and the report details examples of these.
Inez added that UNISON has had ongoing dialogue with its members locally throughout the process and the last meetings having taken place in September 2017. The feedback received from those staff present at those meetings is also included in the report.