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Councillor's failure to face Harrow staff who could lose jobs 'disgusting', says union
A union has branded the decision by a councillor to go to an awards ceremony instead of facing questions from staff losing their jobs in his department as “disgusting”.
Steve Compton, assistant branch secretary of Harrow UNISON, heavily criticised the failure of Councillor Phillip O’Dell, portfolio holder for environment and community safety, to attend Thursday’s cabinet meeting.
Approximately 50 front-line council staff came to the meeting hoping to quiz Cllr O’Dell on plans to cut 53 jobs and four refuse vehicles in a part-merger of the highways, community safety and public realm departments, but he instead went to the National Transport Awards at a hotel on the banks of the River Thames.
Mr Compton said: “As a union we are disgusted – everyone there was disgusted.
“The people there are directly affected by threatened redundancy and wanted to have their opportunity to ask questions – if he is going to get rid of 50-odd staff he should have the courage to come and face them.
“He didn’t bother to come to the meeting when we called in the decision either.”
The proposals were sent back to the council’s cabinet after the UNISON union and members of a scrutiny committee decided there had been “insufficient consideration of legal advice”, but councillors decided to press ahead in Cllr O’Dell’s absence, which has also been criticised by opposition councillors.
The Public Realm Integrated Services Model (PRISM) is predicted to save £1.85million in the next two years, although it could cost the council £1.15m in redundancy settlements as jobs are cut.
Harrow UNISON warned last week that the job cuts, part of the council’s battle to fill a £19 million hole in this year’s budget following massive reductions in central government funding, were “short-sighted” and would hit front-line services.
The Harrow Times is waiting for a response from Harrow Council.