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Services shutdown warning

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
Front
Services shutdown warning

PUBLIC services in Dumfries and Galloway are at risk of being shut down as the council struggles with a staffing crisis.

That was the warning from council chiefs this week as they desperately try to maintain lifeline services with a huge shortage of workers.

The local authority is already facing a “significant number of workforce pressures across key, lifeline services” exacerbated by covid – and it is feared the situation could get worse over winter.

Communities director Derek Crichton underlined the potential consequences for the public at the response, renewal and recovery committee on Tuesday.

He said: “Some things won’t happen as quickly as we would like to. Some things might have to stop in the short term for unforeseen circumstances.”

Mr Crichton explained that the council may have to drop less important services temporarily to ensure that the most important services can be delivered.

He called for the public to show the same kindness given to key workers who were under extreme pressure during the height of Covid, adding: “There’s an intention to manage the risk, to mitigate the worst impact, and prioritise those most at risk in our communities.”

A taskforce set up to solve the staffing crisis has prioritised filling 101 key senior vacancies across numerous departments.

Richard Grieveson, the council’s chief officer for response, renewal and recovery, said: “They are very much the focus of the fast-track employment approach.

“They include a range of different individuals – cleaners, catering, HGV drivers, homeless officers, roads operatives, senior social workers etc.

“We are looking at a whole range of different approaches to target those posts.”

The officials insisted that every action is being taken to mitigate risk.

They also praised council workers who are doing overtime – and even taking on second council jobs – to keep services running.

North West Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson insisted efforts should be made to ensure more college, university and apprenticeship places are in place to deal with staff shortages in the long term.

He said: “I’m really worried about the future because people just aren’t training for these jobs.”

The committee agreed to seek £15,000 from the finance committee for an advertising campaign to spread the word about the job vacancies.

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