Ratepayers will not be out of pocket as a result of a decision by ABC Council to employ a third party security firm to protect its staff and properties.
As Armagh I revealed last week, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has been making use of the services of the Belfast-based Eventsec.
The company was employed to help oversee the reopening of the recycling centres and parks across the borough.
Strategic Director Mark Parkinson confirmed that they were there for the “front line” security of staff and properties.
The revelations led to questions being raised by a trio of DUP councillors who questioned why the company was being employed when up to 200 staff were facing furlough.
We can now reveal that the staff who are expected to be furloughed are likely to be those employed at “leisure, arts and culture facilities” which are described as “income generating” for the council.
Councillor Darryn Causby had queried how many staff were being employed.
He said: “I would like to know how many Eventsec staff are the council currently employing, as in personnel, not how many teams?
“And the other question is how much is this costing us per day and, given that we have them on site now, when do we envisage that we will no longer require Eventsec?”
Councillor Causby also picked up on the issue raised by his colleague Mr Baxter when he continued: “We are paying staff 100% to task and finish and then go home, which under the circumstances may be fair enough.
“But then we know we are short-staffed in other areas, therefore we are having to bring an external company in to make up the numbers to assist council staff in other departments to fulfil their job to full capacity.
“That’s concerning in the sense that we are paying staff, and letting them go home early, and then bringing in additional support so we can open our amenity sites. And then we are talking about furloughing 200 members of our own staff and yet we can’t get our sites and our parks opened and closed by our own council staff. That to me doesn’t seem right. It’s very confusing.”
The strategic director Mr Parkinson revealed 10 Eventsec personnel employed in a couple of teams in parks. Their employment came to an end on Friday.
A number of others employed supporting staff in the four recycling centres will be retained for a short time more to facilitate ongoing reopenings.
But Armagh I can now revealed that the costs – which were not identified at the meeting – will not fall upon the ratepayer.
In fact, Stormont will foot the bill.
An ABC Council spokesperson told Armagh I : “‘In relation to Eventsec staff there is no cost to the council, as these additional costs are covered by central government funding.”
In terms of concerns raised over the furloughing of staff and the current state of play, the spokesperson detailed the current position.
She said: “From a council perspective, making an application to the Job Retention Scheme for 80% of wage costs will help offset the financial deficit we are currently facing.
“Currently, approximately 200 workers are being contacted in respect of furlough.
“In line with the guidance from the JRS, the roles affected are linked to income generating aspects of council business, including leisure, arts and culture facilities.”