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SNP Group Say Councillors Should Decide
The SNP Group at South Lanarkshire Council want councillors to decide whether top jobs at the authority should be filled if a vacancy arises.
They say the decision should not be left to officers when the council is making cuts elsewhere.
But the group were voted down on the issue at an executive committee last week.
Councillor Sheena Wardhaugh put forward a motion calling for a “moratorium on filling posts of Grade 4/5 or above for detailed discussion on the necessity of said posts.”
She said decisions made about savings, advertising and filling such posts should go to executive committee in order to take potential savings into account.
After some confusion, her motion was amended to apply only to heads of services after council leader Eddie McAvoy said grade 4/5 included posts such as headteachers and IT managers.
Councillor Wardhaugh was making the motion as Isobel MacDougall prepares to leave her posts as head of education in Hamilton, Larkhall, Clydesdale and Uddingston in October
She said the council’s policy of no compulsory redundancies was “laudable,” but questioned whether the post needed to be filled, saying: “We would suggest where there is natural wastage, especially at high levels, it would be appropriate for a bit of input from elected members to ask ‘is this post necessary or not?’
“It’s supposedly the councillors that decide on savings.
“The executive committee is the policy-making body and it’s important we have some input into the process.”
Council leader Eddie McAvoy said the number of heads of service for learning areas was down to just two, from 15 in the year 2000.
He also said he was wary of a cross over between councillors and council officers and there was already a robust procedure for filling high-level roles: “There are good intentions in putting this motion forward, it is a genuine attempt to make savings. But I have got some concerns.
“We currently have a process with three processes before a decision is taken to appoint or not appoint a particular person. Even under the present system, there is a considerable time between the start of the recruitment process and the post being filled, and to add the executive committee to it could add a further two months.”
Councillor Chris Thompson accused the SNP of wanting to do things “piecemeal” but Councillor Wardhaugh said they were only asking for a moratorium, adding “I still think there is room for elected members input when we are in this position.”
The motion went to a vote and was defeated 19-9.
In a statement after the meeting, the SNP Group said: “Going forward with future budget discussions the SNP Group feel strongly that, to fulfil the duty of scrutiny councillors have, there must be more input from councillors in matters which may contribute to savings.
“They will continue to scrutinise council structures with a view to amending, where necessary, management posts.”