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About 400 staff attended a question and answer session with the senior management team of Plymouth City Council

Not much of the information would be new to Reps but it would be interesting to know how others reacted to these highlights

Information as presented is followed by commentary in italics

  • Need to save £20m by 22/23 and the need to make ‘difficult decisions’ to achieve this. The graphic below was shared among others.

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  • Key strategy is to grow the city with the plan of building more homes to bring in more council tax.  That would be great and is in fact very much continuity from previous administrations but the mood of the SMT tended more towards the “difficult choices” (cuts) than any feeling that there would be a lot of gains in income generation
  • Home working will be fully consolidated. And it’s clear that they are putting their minds to making sure the technology works for people involved in this. UNISON continues to argue for proper flexible working where people can choose to work at home of in the workplace or a combination of the two rather than the rigid hybrid working that some managers seem to favour of two days in three days out.
  • Repeated phrase was that we will be a council that ‘get the basics right’ Comment below got lots of likes in the chat function

/webmail-new/index.php/mail/viewmessage/getattachment/folder/INBOX/uniqueId/4834/mimeType/image%252Fpng/filenameOriginal/image002.png Very much a mantra of the new administration and really aimed at the last one. In fairness to the SMT they made it clear we were good at most things and staff should not feel criticised, but we should always be seeking improvement. Doesn’t really address the point that you get what you pay for though and there is no way that you can be making more cuts as promised above and expect improvements in services. PiU would go further. All our staff do a hard day’s work, some in environments where they are in fear of getting Covid19, others in isolation at home, all in the permanent shadow of redundancy or restructure. We need a break and some real acknowledgement of what we have achieved over the past years, not just warm words on Tracy’s Team Talk 

  • One phrase used twice was ‘we will look at to whether we deliver or someone else can deliver it’. The new administration in as far as they have discussed their plans with unions don’t seem to have any around privatisation, although they are clearly not ideologically opposed and we know some managers have ideas around arms length vehicles and partnerships to remove staff delivering services from the protection of NJC terms and conditions and the pension scheme.
  • Commitment to addressing climate change. The ‘climate emergency’ remains in place. We will be carbon zero by 2030.  But PCC do not control pension fund so cannot give answer re- heavy fossil fuel investments in the Devon/Brunel pension fund. An issue we have been raising for some time despite government opposition to schemes taking ethical stances. Of course the fossil fuel companies have values based on resources they can never use if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided so maybe we just need out to avoid exposure to that risk? It was good to hear them respond positively (if not specifically) to the idea we have been putting forward for some time of subsidised green travel to work to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
  • No date agreed yet for final Windsor House closure. Possibly March 2022, and the future of other buildings will be looked at. Any savings here will go towards the £20M above. But that won’t save jobs, it never does, the more cuts we make the more are demanded of us. Efficiencies are fine but that is not the same as savings, which frequently means shifting costs onto staff and customers.