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Shropshire Council hits back over redundancy scheme criticism

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Shropshire Council has hit back at claims its voluntary redundancy scheme is in a state of "chaos".

It comes after union leaders claimed dozens of staff were still unsure about whether they should turn up for work on Monday morning.

Of the 740 workers who applied for voluntary redundancy, 164 had asked to leave this Monday but some have since been told they cannot go due to the impact it would have on public services.

Unison bosses said others have been told their leaving date was delayed until March and claimed a "groundswell of anger and confusion" was building at the local authority.

But Shropshire Council today said they had kept to their timetable and people were being let go on their preferred date wherever possible. Clive Wright, Shropshire Council's chief executive, said: "The voluntary redundancy programme has been carefully managed, and we have kept to our timetable at every stage.

"Our priority has always been to maintain services for the people of Shropshire, and we have based our decision on each application for voluntary redundancy on that.

"Where it has been possible to let people go, on their preferred date and without disrupting services, we have done so."

Under the cost-cutting measures, up to 1,700 workers will have to leave the council in order to cut the wage bill by £55 million.

Alan James, branch secretary of Shropshire Unison, said they had been "inundated" with enquiries from "angry, irritated and frustrated" staff at how the voluntary redundancy programme was being conducted.

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Mr James said: "They set up this voluntary redundancy scheme very quickly and concerns we had about a lack of consultation were not listened to and now it seems to be coming to a head. The closing date was September 6 and 164 of the 740 who applied said they wanted to go on September 30 which is the date the council put forward but many are now being told they can't or still don't even know today.

"September 30 was the first date given but now team managers are saying we can't lose people because we don't have the staff to cover. Some are being told they can't leave until February or March next year and the whole thing is utterly chaotic."

He added: "I'd sum it up by saying there's now a groundswell of anger and confusion across the organisation and people feel thoroughly let down. How are we going to maintain services?"

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