Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils’ office move delayed at least two months
The relocation of two district councils to new headquarters in Ipswich will not be completed for at least two months.
Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils had hoped the move to joint headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich, would be completed this month.
A dispute over parking arrangements, however, has meant that more than 500 staff at the councils, including joint chief executive Arthur Charvonia, have had to be made redundant under a collective bargaining agreement with unions.
Staff are currently working out their notice period while the councils and Unison bosses draw up new parking terms and conditions, with workplace conciliation service ACAS called in to mediate.
“Because we were unable to reach an agreement around the changes relating to car parking, we then had to technically make all staff redundant from their current contracts,” said a spokesperson for Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils.
“We will then offer them a new contract with updated terms and conditions, which is currently in negotiation, and what is known as suitable alternative employment.
“Those members of staff who wish to work at Endeavour House in this time may do so and all remaining staff will move, at some point, after the current notice period for the existing contracts ends, on December 5.
“The delay will not adversely impact on the high quality service we provide.”
Council staff currently have free parking at their head offices in Needham Market and Hadleigh
Following the move, they will either have to use available parking spaces, public spaces or Park & Ride, which Unison say will be impractical.
Staff were being offered packages including £300 over three years to cover parking and free Park & Ride. They are also being encouraged to make use of technology to work remotely at ‘touchdown’ points, or directly with residents and customers.
Unison members rejected the parking offers by 78.5 per cent. An initial meeting between the two councils, Unison and ACAS took place on September 28.
A Unison spokesperson said: “Our members are waiting to hear of new proposals and we would prefer not to comment further at this stage.”
Cllr Penny Otten, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “I feel both sorry and concerned for all the staff .”