Northampton Borough Council has ‘reaffirmed its commitment’ to being an ‘attractive’ place to work for staff, but opposition councillors are calling on it to do more.
A motion from the Liberal Democrat party had called on chief executive George Candler to review the departure of members of staff in the final quarter of 2018 to decide if the current policies and procedures were as strong as they should be to ensure that good staff are retained.
But the motion was watered down somewhat after an amendment from the ruling Conservative party was accepted in order to pass it through.
The new motion recognised 'the importance of retaining good members of staff over the next 15 months to ensure that skilled staff are available to transfer to a new unitary authority’.
The new unitary authority is widely accepted to be happening next year, even though there is currently a consultation out on the proposals.
A heated debate on the issue of departing staff took up a significant chunk of the full council meeting that was held on Monday (January 14) at The Guildhall.
Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Sally Beardsworth, who tabled the original motion, said: “We can’t allow bullying or bad process in our council, we have to be exemplary and make sure that the staff are well respected and treated with courtesy.
“I find it difficult that people say we have these policies but that they might not be adhered to because how can we put this right if we don’t know why people are leaving? We need to make sure that we don’t lose valuable local knowledge.”
Fellow Lib Dem Councillor Dennis Meredith added: “I have known some good, loyal, hard-working staff who have left this authority. I have often asked to speak to council staff only to be told that they have left. It gives me a warning sign that something is wrong.”
But the Liberal Democrats were criticised by their fellow Labour opposition councillors for accepting the amended motion from council leader Jonathan Nunn.
Leader Danielle Stone said the amendment was ‘nonsense’, while Councillor Gareth Eales said the amendment did not address the root causes of the problem.
He added: "There are people who are walking away without another job to go to. Why is that? We need to do better."
Speaking shortly before the motion was passed, Tory leader Jonathan Nunn said: “We want our best staff to stick around. While times have changed and people do change jobs more frequently, nevertheless if people move on for career development then we accept that. But we don’t like it if people leave because they don’t enjoy it here.
“While I do think there has been an improvement in recent years on that, staff might feel like they have been told this all before, so we do need to act.”
And although the calls for the chief executive to review the departure process was removed from the motion, Councillor Beardsworth urged the leader to reconsider.