Social-services staff face move

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest

Social services personnel could be relocated from a base in Alnwick, but assurances have been given that there will be no loss of service in the town.

Northumberland County Council is consulting ‘with a small number of staff’ on the proposals, which could see them moving to buildings across the county, including other locations in the town.

However, the authority would not disclose the number of staff and said that there are presently no firm plans for the future of the building – 10 Bailiffgate.

It has led to concerns about the vitality of the historic street – which lost the convent last year and will lose the high school when its relocates in September – as well as the need to keep staff in the town.

A county council spokeswoman said: “The proposals are still under consultation with the small number of staff who would be affected.

“The plans are part of a wider strategy for more agile working, where staff could work from any suitable council building across the county, including in and around the Alnwick area. It is designed to benefit and improve services for children within the county.

“There would be no loss of service to the residents of Alnwick and the current arrangements for contacting the service and making referrals would remain unchanged.”

Alnwick county councillors Gordon Castle and Heather Cairns have reacted to the news. Coun Castle said: “It sounds as though there aren’t going to be job losses, but the bottom line is the service must not be reduced and I will keep a close eye on it. I have sympathy for the people who might be affected adversely.

“We can’t predict what will happen to the building, but I hope there is a scheme that will help bring out the best in Bailiffgate.”

Coun Cairns said: “I spoke to the head of the service, Daljit Lally, and she assured me that there would continue to be a social-services hub in Alnwick for children and adults, but not in Bailiffgate as the building was unsuitable for the needs.

“People who work in social services have a strong network and know their patch. If you move them to an office out of the area, I have concerns. It is the consultation stage, but I am concerned, because you need people in Alnwick who know the patch and know the people they are dealing with.”