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Waste workers set to lose stalls perk

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 02, 2013

By Leslie Jackson

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WASTE workers who are paid extra to put up market stalls in Leek face losing the perk as part of a bid to save cash.

The Post & Times has received confidential papers which show that nine employees, whose full-time jobs are in the waste and street cleaning department at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, set up and dismantle stalls for outdoor markets in Market Place before the start or end of their shifts.

Because the workers, who are based at the Fowlchurch Depot waste facility at Ball Haye Green, are on seperate contracts for the role, it means they accrue pro-rata annual leave and sick pay.

But the documents show the cost to the council of erecting and dismantling the stalls – including transport and salaries – was £84,903 last year.

This is against an income of £57.994, leaving taxpayers footing the bill for the remaining £26,909.

Now councillors have recommended that officers start formal discussion with the workers with a view to making the market positions redundant.

Instead, the council wants to develop new posts with more realistic and financially viable terms and conditions for the council.

A report to councillors by the council's visitor services manager, Terry Crawford, said: "Nine men set up the market on Tuesday.

"It takes two hours and the same time to take them down.

"The weekly contracted cost per officer is £75.06, which we have established is for four hours work.

"In theory, this equates to £18.76 per hour.

"Five men set up the Saturday market which takes 1.5 hours to erect and the same to take down.

"The weekly contracted cost per officer is £67.55, which equates to £22.52 per hour.

"Eight of the employees would be eligible for redundancy payments totalling £42,781.

"For Leek markets to be sustainable in future years it is important that the costs are controlled.

"The aim of the changes is to create a more efficient and financially viable market.

"Under this arrangement the costs greatly exceed income and with the council needing to make spending reductions this is no longer affordable."

Using £25,000 allocated from the High Street Innovation Fund in December 2012, the council purchased 28 high quality pop-up market stalls which have been used for the market trial on the new public realm area adjacent to the Nicholson War Memorial at the end of Derby Street.

Mr Crawford added in his report: "A private contractor, CityB Group, sets up and dismantles the stalls each Wednesday morning at 6.30am by two or three operatives depending on the number of stalls needed.

"The council is charged £15 per stall and we only pay for what we need.

"Based on an indicative figure of 35 stalls on Wednesday and 45 on Saturday, the annual cost of CityB Group providing this service is £62,400. This represents a savings of over £22,000 against the existing direct cost base."

The reports states that to fully replace the galvanised steel stalls in Market Place, 32 more pop-up stalls would be required, giving total of 60.

It is understood councillors will debate the markets at a meeting tonight, Wednesday, under confidential items.

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