FORMER Labour MP Baroness Smith said Basildon Council’s decision to put all staff on notice they could lose their jobs would leave them “numb, scared and demoralised”.
Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the local government settlement, she was critical of Coalition cuts to councils and Basildon’s resulting decision to put all staff on notice when up to 200 jobs could go.
But her attack has led to a war of words with Phil Turner, Tory deputy leader of the council, who branded her a “deluded has-been politician” whose party was responsible for the cuts now being made.
Last week the Echo revealed every around 1,000 members of staff at the council received letters from human resources about a three-month consultation into the changes.
Baroness Smith said: “At the council of my home town, Basildon, virtually every member of staff was handed a personal letter headed “transformation programme collective redundancy consultation". In all my years involved in local government I have never seen anything like it.
“Not a single member of staff, other than the most senior, I understand, has job security.
“How did those staff, many long term and not on high salaries, feel when they went home that night, numb, scared? They were certainly demoralised.”
Mr Turner said the letter was a legal requirement and the council had been up-front with staff about the looming redundancies much earlier with an article in the Echo plus a series of roadshows at the authority.
He said: “We have to be up-front and honest with our employees and need an open and honest dialogue. Plus this also gives some employees the opportunity to look for an alternative course of action in the meantime.
“This is damn right hypocritical of Angela who was in bed with Gordon Brown who got us into this mess so she needs to look at her self in the mirror.
“She is a sad deluded has been politician who had her time in Government and they screwed up on her watch. Her comments are giving false hope to staff that there is another way, but there isn’t.”