Proposed organisation changes at Active Northumberland
I am emailing you to let you know that Active Northumberland have informed me that they are proposing to make some changes to their organisation structure and have commenced formal consultation with their staff and union representatives.
You will be aware that following a request from the charity the Council has provided a grant up to £1 million this financial year to safeguard the future of the trust, provided it is able to produce a credible business plan which will deliver the financial targets for the coming years. This includes savings of £2 million next financial year and a further £1.5 million the following year.
The purpose and rationale for the changes is to better integrate and harmonise the numerous organisations brought together over the last two years in terms of a shared purpose, vision, values and team working, along with the need to harness a strong performance culture.
In terms of leisure the activities of the Community Sports & Development Teams would be more closely aligned structurally with Leisure Operations to improve the offer to the community, whilst further realising opportunities for service enhancements and efficiency.
Additionally the realignment will aim to further empower leisure centre operations by being commercially accountable to the local area with an adaptability to respond to changing demand.
In terms of library and tourist information centre services the proposals are designed to retain and improve the county’s services, bringing them together with other facilities where possible and developing them to meet the needs of residents and visitors in the future. Combining services will mean longer opening times for visitors and in some locations it would also provide the public with a one stop shop for their information, library and leisure needs.
The proposals are that:
• Services are integrated at main sites such as Cramlington, Bedlington, Morpeth, Ponteland, Ashington, Blyth, Berwick and Hexham
• Morpeth Library is co-located at a new site in Manchester Street
• Guidepost Library is moved into Cleeswell Hill Centre alongside Schools Library Service
• Retail goods at tourist information sites are reduced or removed over the next 12 months and alternative methods of providing those services are considered
• Active Northumberland’s back office functions and administration support are combined within a central unit at County Hall for resilience and efficiency
• Mobile library services are reviewed and options to work in partnership with others are considered to make services more efficient
• There will be no change to Prison Library service
• There will be no change to Schools Library service
Whilst the charity needs to reduce costs they have reassured me that the changes are not proposed solely on that basis, but are also to ensure that the proposed structure is sustainable and will offer some stability going forward at a critical time for the Trust. Consequently there will be some reduction in headcount, although this will be accommodated by voluntary redundancy wherever possible. They have reassured me that they will do everything they can to avoid any compulsory redundancies.