Unison concerned staff are “footing bill” for Babergh District Council relocation

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich, where Babergh District Council is relocating to.
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich, where Babergh District Council is relocating to.

Unison, the public sector trade union, has raised concerns that staff at Babergh District Council are “footing the bill” for their impending office relocation.

The council will, from October 1, be based alongside Mid Suffolk District Council in Ipswich, moving from its long-time home in Corks Lane, Hadleigh. It will maintain a customer access point at Sudbury Town Hall.

But Unison says many of its members across the two councils feel they are facing a substantial increase in expenses to work at the new office at Endeavour House.

The organisation claims staff were initially told they would be given a small sum to make up for the loss of contractual free parking, which they will no longer receive.

Sam Leigh, Unison’s regional organiser, said: “Moving to an already congested Ipswich makes sense to some, but not to many.

“Staff will be doing everything to make the transition as smooth as possible, but some residents have already experienced problems with the customer access system.

“Unison members are footing the bill for an ill-conceived and poorly planned decision. I cannot see how, as things stand, the move out of the districts and the closure of the offices will take place as planned.

“Delays would lead to further costs to the councils if they are required to keep current buildings open whilst paying rent to Suffolk County Council.”

The union is consulting with members on whether to accept the changes to their terms and conditions, with a postal ballot due to close tomorrow.

In response, a spokeswoman for Babergh District Council said: “Staff based at our existing offices have benefited from free, on-site parking as part of their conditions of employment with the councils.

“That will not be possible at our new premises, so we looked at ways to mitigate the impact upon everyone.

“At one time, this included thoughts of offering a “one-off” payment to staff as a buy-out of that particular benefit.

“However, we believe the proposal we have put forward, following a long consultation with staff, is much fairer and wider in scope.

“It includes free use of the Ipswich park and ride facilities for three years and reduced fees in the Endeavour House car park for those who wish to park closer.

“Staff will also be able to access a range of discounts on public transport through the Suffolk County Council green travel plan.”