Key posts are still not filled at council

Craigavon Lakes and Civic Centre. INPT24-300.

Craigavon Lakes and Civic Centre. INPT24-300.

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The new ABC council is the only one of Northern Ireland’s 11 district councils still struggling to complete its top staffing structure, the Portadown Times has been told.

Twenty months after the ‘shadow’ council was established in April last year – with the new body taking power in April this year – key posts still remain unfilled, at annual salaries up to £85,000.

Under the new regime, four strategic directors’ posts were designated, but just three were interviewed for, after which two were filled.

No suitable candidate was identified for the third, and it is understood that a former deputy chief executive from a council in the North of England was given a contract.

On the next tier, 14 heads-of-service posts (at salaries just under £60,000) were required.

Just eight were filled from the former councils – five from Banbridge and one each from Craigavon and Armagh, plus the head of planning who was transferred from Planning Service.

A council source told the Portadown Times, “This leaves nine former directors who held that position in the three councils.

“Most of them did not apply for any of the new posts, choosing instead to see what decision the chief executive (salary around £120,000) would take on their future.

“They are no longer responsible for their previous duties or any staff, but continue to receive their former director salaries of between 60k and 80k.

“They have been given ‘projects’ which do not seem to be essential to the functioning of the council.”

The source insisted that “the lengthy delays were leading to low morale among loyal staff who are questioning the worth of the work they have carried out for many years”.

The source added, “In other councils, staff were slotted in to roles which matched their work without the need for expensive assessment centres and interviews.”

A spokesperson for the ABC Council said they were unable to comment on the matter at this stage.

However, a statement is expected in time for next week’s edition.