COUNTY council chiefs have denied claims they had spent millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money training staff which they were set to axe.
Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the county council’s Labour group, has asked for an investigation to be launched into why £4million was spent on training individuals who were part of planned redundancies since 2012.
However, the Tory leadership rejected his calls, with Coun Marc Bayliss, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, saying Coun McDonald’s motion was ‘a deliberate attempt to mislead the council’.
Speaking at a full council meeting on Thursday (September 17), Coun Bayliss said about £3.9million had been used to train 75,000 people over the last three years. He also revealed £17,000 of the money had been used to up-skill 322 staff before they were made redundant.
“We have a legal duty to make sure the people we employee and those who are delivering our services are trained to be able to deliver those all the time,” he said.
“We can’t say ‘I am afraid we are going to have to make some residencies in six months time, so you cannot be trained’.”
Coun Bayliss also received the support of Liberal Democrat councillors, with Coun Liz Tucker saying she did not regard it as money wasted as she believed training would help staff get another job.
Coun Fran Oborski added: “When I read the original motion, it looked as though we had been incompetent, but it looks to me as if we have done a really good job and those people who have sadly been made redundant have had the benefit of their skills being updated which has hopefully helped them in their future employment.”
However, Coun McDonald said the money could have been been spent on keeping youth centres open and public transport running across Worcestershire.
“The facts are that people were being trained for their existing jobs and they were part of planned redundancies, so to hear Coun Tucker and Coun Oborski saying these were being trained up to add more strings to their bows is absolutely nonsense,” he added.
“A great deal of the £4million was spent of people that we knew and they knew were being made redundant and that is incompetency.”
But only ten councillors backed his calls for an investigation while 38 voted against it and three abstained.