As the time approaches for the new North Yorkshire Council to come in to being on 1 April, we have been surprised to learn that there are plans to not TUPE transfer all Harrogate Borough Council and Craven District Council staff to the new authority. Instead these staff will be transferred to Veritau, a shared service group owned by local authorities in Yorkshire and north east England.
Speaking for UNISON, Harrogate Branch Secretary Dave Houlgate said:
“Staff and UNISON have engaged with the TUPE process for well over a year now and our expectation and the expectation of all staff is that they will transfer to the new North Yorkshire Council on 1 April on their existing terms and conditions but with the opportunity to move on to the new terms and conditions, which UNISON has negotiated.
“It would seem, however, that the current County Council has decided at this very late stage, it does not want Harrogate Borough Council staff who work in the area associated with internal audit services to transfer to the new Council. It has decided instead that they should transfer to a separate company, Veritau. UNISON opposes this move.
“UNISON has been in discussions with representatives from all the Councils involved with Local Government Re-organisation for over a year and this option has never been on the agenda, even though we had raised it as a concern early in the process. There has never been any indication prior to this ‘late hour’ decision that staff would not transfer to North Yorkshire Council. We are dismayed by this development.
“Whilst we are aware that both the current North Yorkshire County Council and Veritau want staff to transfer directly to Veritau, ultimately we hold Harrogate Borough Council responsible as it is their decision to make and not the County Council’s. On this basis, we have lodged a formal Dispute with the Borough Council.
“Indeed we have had written confirmation from the new Chief Executive at North Yorkshire Council, Richard Flinton, that the decision is one for the sovereign Council, in this case Harrogate Borough Council, to determine where their staff transfer to. It should be noted that there is no benefit to Harrogate Borough Council by this decision.”
Our position is clear, we object in the strongest terms to this late change of plan which denies these staff the opportunity to move on to the new terms and conditions negotiated and agreed in good faith by UNISON. Staff in internal audit services at Harrogate should, as they expect to do, transfer to the new authority and then if there is a need to review how audit services are delivered for the new Council then the proper processes should be followed after the transfer.