Along with all staff in all Land Registry offices across the country this morning, everyone at the Stevenage Office assembled at eleven o’clock this morning to hear the board’s proposals.
Our area manager removed his jacket, stood on a box, and surprised us all with the severity of the proposals.
Five offices to close:
Croydon, Tunbridge Wells, Portsmouth, Peterborough… oh, and Stevenage. You’ll notice they’re all in the South East. The reason behind the choice of offices was given as the value of the estate, and the amount of surplus space we have in these offices. Croydon and Portsmouth marked for closure February 2011; Stevenage, Tunbridge Wells and Peterborough September 2011.
Head Office to be sold off:
Land Registry Head Office is a historic building in Lincoln’s Inn Fields: the heart of Central London’s legal district. Our most valuable asset. And I for one, though sad to see it go, feel that selling it off is exactly the right thing to do. Head Office staff will vacate to smaller rented offices in London, and there will then be a review as to whether Head Office needs to stay in London at all.
Land Registry Head Office. Photo by John Linwood.
Lowest grade staff to be reduced massively:
We currently have around 600 staff at grades RA and RO. (Civil service equivalent: AA and AO.) These will be reduced to 125. Some compulsory redundancies inevitable. (I miss this cull by one grade.)
Several functions identifies for outsourcing (out of a list of 189 possibilities). External file storage; central print facilities; Head Office reprographics; facilities and estates management; IT system management; IT desktop support.
And then more in 2011:
And then, to cap it all, in 2011 there will be a further review that is likely to lead to reduction of staff numbers to 3750 (from 7,700 at present), and the closure of two further offices.
For those of us in closing offices, it looks like we’ll have the opportunity to express an interest in moving to a remaining office, and if we aren’t able to do so we’d be made redundant on the closure of our office. This is much better than we’d expected: the union had indicated that it could be more like “your office is closing, your job is now elsewhere, if you don’t move with it then you’ve left voluntarily”. Thankfully that doesn’t look to be the case. And the board have said that they’re making a case to the cabinet office for any redundancy offers made as a result of this announcement to be on the current civil service compensation scheme, rather than the proposed, much reduced, new one.
Well, anyway, that’s what I’ve gleaned from our Area Manager’s speech. He didn’t stick to the Head Office “script”, so I may have missed some details, and I’ve not yet read the staff brief that was issued at the end of the meeting. There’s been a press release, too. Looks like most of the details are available on the government news distribution service here.
Not sure how much work anyone’s expecting us to do today. As our Area Manager said in conclusion:
“It’s going to be a crap day, and a crap two years to be honest.”
(I guess for the sake of accuracy I’m obliged to mention that these are proposals that are subject to a consultation period until the end of January 2010.)