Bolton planners call off industrial action

Bolton Council's planning officers have suspended their industrial action as negotiations continue to overcome concerns arising from restructuring of the department in recent months.

The planning team consisted of 82 posts before the restructuring at the start of the year, of which 68 were filled and there were 14 vacancies. Ten staff took voluntary redundancy and a further four have been redeployed within the council. There are now 54 in the planning team.

Forty-six Unison members within the planning department refused to write reports or respond to requests for information for around two weeks.

The council said today: "The industrial action has been suspended and we continue to work with the union to resolve the matter."

The union is seeking reassurances over the future of the department and service levels.

Unison's Bolton branch today declined to comment while negotiations were at a delicate stage.

Local authority planning teams across the country are notoriously short-staffed due to a lack of planning graduates, training and the lure of the private sector. Many in the property world are worried that if the Conservatives get into power and deliver on their promise of scrapping regional strategies to give greater power to councils, the local planning system will not be able to cope.

Bolton Council said it delivered a good service and it has sufficient staff to deal with such future scenarios.

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