The five regeneration agencies in Glasgow – tasked to get people ‘job ready’ – made 200 staff redundant at the end of March. Employees had to volunteer for a severance package. But key workers will not be allowed to go.
Because funding from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Enterprise Agency has been withdrawn, the five agencies are merging into one body funded solely by Glasgow City Council.
From Friday 1 April, the new single body – Glasgow Regeneration Agency (GRA) – will employ a total of around 600 people compared to 800 over the five previous bodies.
Instead of headquarters in Gorbals, Govan, Springburn, Drumchapel and Easterhouse, a central headquarters will be established at 112 Ingram Street. Each of the current five areas will have a local ‘hub’ which has still to be identified from their local properties portfolio. All the companies are limited by guarantee and registered charities.
Said Councillor Alistair Watson: ‘We are determined to ensure local delivery of services is maintained. We do not have the money to sustain five agencies but the local service delivery has been proven to work.’ He said property that was surplus to requirements, would be sold and leases would be evaluated to establish what was cost effective to retain or to buy out.
Behind the scenes at the five agencies, bitter tears are being shed. Said one insider: ‘This has been a horrendous process. There has been no information forthcoming. Everything is totally outwith local control.’
In another agency an employee said: ‘I don’t know whether to take the package or not. Nothing is clear and I certainly don’t know if I’ll be offered a job in the new set-up.’
At a third establishment, a staffer declared: ‘I’m going. It is sad to see such good teams being dismantled.’
A transition team has been working on the new single body under the leadership of Calum Graham who was Chief Executive Officer of Glasgow West Regeneration Agency. He is intrim Chief Executive of the new agency.
Working in Ingram Street, the brain stormers have to devise a strategy to maintain front line services from April 1 when the new financial year starts.
A spokesman for the team said: ‘This merger into one body will mean that, in the challenging financial environment, we are in a better position to maximise the resources we will have available to continue the fantastic front-line work of the regeneration agency staff. It is hoped that with the large numbers indicating an interest in leaving voluntarily, compulsory redundancies will be minimised. Service delivery will remain in the most disadvantaged communities across Glasgow.’
One of the key outcomes of the merger will be a reduction in senior management, back office and administrative staff.
The Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) had to approve the dismantling of each of the five charities and the formation of one to incorporate the work of all.