Council job fears in work transfer

jobs switch: The LCC Engineering services depot on Dewhurst Row in Bamber Bridge
jobs switch: The LCC Engineering services depot on Dewhurst Row in Bamber Bridge
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Council mechanics have spoken of their fears for the future after it was revealed their jobs are set to be transferred to a private company.

Lancashire County Council’s engineering service, based in Bamber Bridge, maintains the council’s fleet of vehicles including gritters, Travelcare vehicles, library buses and fire engines on behalf of the fire service.

But county council leader Geoff Driver has struck a deal with private firm One Connect, which the Evening Post understands will be ratified on December 15, to transfer the staff to the ‘BT Fleet’ from January 1.

The move will be the latest in a string of council departments to be operated by One Connect which is 60% owned by telecoms giant BT and 40% by the county council.

When One Connect took over the running of other county hall functions it relocated Preston-based staff across the county including Ormskirk and Accrington.

Today a staff member claimed the main depot in Dewhurst Row, Bamber Bridge, may eventually be closed and staff feared for their futures.

The worker said: “They said there would be no redundancies but there would be redeployments.

“If they close them which seems to be on the cards, they will re-deploy the mechanics where?

“People are very worried about their jobs and I can see a winter of discontent.

“We will fight this. It is not a case of being made redundant, they will just mess you around and move you about until you leave.”

Meanwhile opposition political leaders at county hall claimed they had not been made aware of the move and accused the Conservative administration of secrecy.

County Coun Bill Winlow, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “This is what you get when you have a tablet system of governing and not a proper committee.

“I think it is an absolute disgrace, I have not seen it anywhere.

“It is not open democracy, it is what you get with a closed cabinet system, with decisions taken behind closed doors.”

He added he would be seeking reassurances about the workers’ job security and relocation.

County Coun Jennifer Mein who is the leader of the Labour group said: “It is shocking that these things can go on at the County Council without people being aware and with no consultation with anybody.”

A spokesman for Unison said: “We would expect full meaningful and effective consultation on any proposed changes which impact both on staff and public they serve.”

County Council leader Geoff Driver confirmed he had ‘made the decision to do it’ but declined to comment further.

In a statement a spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We are currently looking at how we manage our fleet of vehicles.

“The process is ongoing and no decisions have been taken at this stage.

“The council would only change its approach if it offered clear benefits to tax payers.”