Controversial plans to outsource Scottish Borders Council’s IT department to a private firm in Edinburgh will undergo a “detailed review”over the next six months.
That was the outcome of a debate held in private yesterday when a report was presented to councillors and discussed behind closed doors.
Scottish Borders Council (SBC) issued a statement today saying it has “agreed the way forward for its ICT service.”
It involves six months of consultation and negotiation, with a final decision expected to be made in October.
A joint trades union spokesperson (on behalf of GMB, Unite and Unison) said: “While GMB, Unite and Unison will never support outsourcing, we do believe the inclusion of our members in this now detailed review through workshops is a more positive step for our ICT members.
“Our members have been vocal in telling SBC management that they can deliver what is required. It is now up to SBC management to work with us and actually be clear to our members about what they need. We look forward to open and constructive dialogue on this issue over the next few months.”
It is now up to SBC management to work with us and actually be clear to our members about what they needTrades union spokesperson
Tracey Logan, chief executive of SBC said: “In order to meet the needs of the council and the people we serve, we regularly look at how we can deliver our services. As part of this we have undertaken a review of this service and have been developing a comprehensive ICT strategy and approach for the future. Members agreed the strategy in principle at Thursday’s Council meeting and approved the next steps in developing a detailed implementation plan.
“Further work with a range of stakeholders will now take place before a decision on the detailed implementation plan is made by councillors in October. That plan will include an assessment of the value for money case as to how each element of the service will be delivered in the future.”
Berwickshire Councillor Michael Cook, executive member for hr and corporate improvement added: “We value the commitment and hard work of our staff. At the same time we believe this service can become even stronger. That’s why we are taking time to consider in some detail each element of the service.
“As part of this exercise, we will market test the technical elements of our ICT service. There is strong evidence that SBC would be able to take advantage of industry knowledge more quickly, access new skills, take advantage of economies of scale and benefit from a relationship with a private sector ICT service provider.”
All affected staff will be offered opportunities to play their part through staff workshops planned over the coming six months. Unions will also continue to be consulted.