Council’s £600,000 pay-out to four staff

Craigavon Lakes and Civic Centre. INPT24-300.
Craigavon Lakes and Civic Centre. INPT24-300.

The new ABC super council started its official life on Wednesday - by agreeing a £600,000 redundancy package for four top officers.

There were three compulsory lay-offs - Craigavon’s acting chief executive Robert Colvin; his counterpart in Banbridge Pat Comisky; and Armagh City and District chief executive John Briggs.

They are reported to have been granted between £150,000 and £170,000 each in a package dictated from Stormont.

There was one voluntary redundancy - David McKee, an officer at Armagh, with a reported package over the £100,000 mark. His deal is a template that will be used for a raft of voluntary redundancies coming along the line. It is anticipated that between 200-300 lay-offs will be requested, with an expression of intent about to be sent out from Craigavon Civic Centre, the main administrative offices.

The current redundancies are immediate, especially among the acting and actual chief executives, whose jobs finished at midnight on Tuesday when Armagh City and District, Banbridge District and Craigavon Borough Council all officially wound up to become ABC. Roger Wilson is the new council chief.

The agreements were announced in a half-hour ‘in committee’ briefing. And while DUP members asked for clarification on a few technicalities, it was all agreed in the end.

There are around 1,100 staff collectively from the former three councils, and the three former Civic Centres will be retained. The Palace at Armagh will be the prestige centre, from where the Lord Mayor (initially Darryn Causby) will operate.

The business meetings will be conducted at Craigavon (the only building big enough to accommodate the 41 members) and Banbridge will be the planning centre.

The Portadown Times has also learned that the former Mayors’ Parlours in Banbridge and Craigavon will remain, mainly for social purposes and greeting visitors.

A source in the council said, “The final sum is based on time the officers served in their current posts.

“All staff will have the opportunity of seeking voluntary redundancy, but if they are deemed to be vital staff, redundancies are unlikely to be granted. But we are confident that compulsory redundancies will be kept to an absolute minimum.

“In the long run, there will be significant savings to the ratepayers. With three councils united into one, it would be irresponsible to have the same number of staff in post. Wednesday started a new era.”