Rossendale and Hyndburn departments plan to merge

FIVE jobs could be axed under proposals to merge the planning departments at Rossendale and Hyndburn councils.

A report to councillors in Rossendale ahead of a meeting next Wednesday has urged them to agree the move in principle.

Rossendale Council said the merger would save both authorities £90,000 a year, although Hyndburn Council refused to publish details.

The two bodies already share building control services and the amalgamation of planning departments has been agreed by officers.

At present, there are 10 staff in Rossendale’s planning department and 15 in Hyndburn’s, but the proposed new structure would see the unified department employ 20 people.

In his report, Stuart Sugarman, director of business at Rossendale Council, said the number of planning applications in both districts had fallen.

He said: “As already agreed by council, the building control teams of both authorities have taken steps to develop a shared service and the back office systems for building control are now being merged.

“From a financial perspective both authorities are also under significant pressure to reduce their costs whilst at the same time maintain a good level of service.

“The Government promotes the development of shared services as a means of seeking to reduce costs and improve standards of service.”

Employees and trade union representatives at both councils have been involved in discussions with council bosses about potential redundancies.

Rossendale councillors will vote on the merger at a full council meeting in Bacup on December 11.

Hyndburn’s cabinet was due to discuss the proposals in Accrington last night but press and public were excluded from that part of the meeting.

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