Peak District National Park Authority confirms final restructure plans including job cuts
and live on Freeview channel 276
As previously reported, the authority announced a series of transformation proposals earlier this year, purportedly to head off financial concerns arising from frozen Government grants and rampant inflation.
While the earlier threat of closing PDNPA’s four visitor centres was avoided thanks to an anonymous philanthropic donor – a gift expected to be formally approved in the coming weeks – on Friday, July 28, the authority’s members approved plans which will likely entail six or seven redundancies – a fraction of the number expected at the start of the process.
Chief executive Phil Mulligan said: “Few chief executives step into a role wanting to oversee changes where individuals or services are directly affected by a restructure process, but the stark reality of the 40 per cent real-terms cut in our core grant over the last ten years means these have been necessary proposals.
“I would again like to express my sincere thanks to the donor who has kindly stepped forward to offer around three years of support to enable our visitor centres to continue operating, which has significantly reduced the level of previous potential redundancies by around 90 per cent. Of course, we may still be losing a small number of colleagues and will provide the utmost care and support to those affected.”
Among the plans given final approval is a reduction of more than 50 per cent in the most senior ‘head of service’ roles, with just four posts set to remain.
On the other hand, resources will be redirected to boost the capacity the authority’s planning department by around a quarter. The department has recently struggled with recruitment and retention in skilled and technical posts as it struggled to offer competitive pay and conditions.
A consultation process with staff union Unison and the authority’s own internal staff representation body will now also take place on a proposed ‘pay strategy’, which seeks to re-balance posts across the organisation where many salaries are currently below the regional public sector median.
Further changes include bringing some smaller departments under new or alternative service heads, the streamlining of administrative services through improved technology and potential outsourcing for some specialist areas of work.
There will also be investment targeted towards enhancing the national park’s online and digital presence, which is increasingly important to engaging park residents and visitors.
Ken Smith, newly appointed chair of the authority, said: “Although, to some, it may appear that our higher grade roles are most positively impacted by the pay strategy proposals, the reality is that our lower paid positions are already meeting or exceeding the thresholds of where we want to be, according to the independent pay analysis we have commissioned.
“By tackling these difficult issues now, I’m confident that we’ll create a national park authority that is resilient, responsive and enabling – for the benefit of those we serve locally and in our unrivalled offer to the wider nation and beyond.”
The proposals are expected to be implemented through cost reductions to the organisation and via a one-off Defra grant of £440,000 made available earlier this year, along with the authority’s savings in reserve.