Union claims Angus Council is ‘ripping the heart out of local arts’

GMB says the members of staff have been 'pivotal' in the growth of the Meffan Institute
GMB says the members of staff have been 'pivotal' in the growth of the Meffan Institute

A union has accused Angus Council of “ripping the heart out of local arts” with impending budget cuts.

GMB Scotland has called on the local authority to rethink its decision to review the posts of museum and gallery staff, despite a full calendar of events booked for 2017.

GMB claims senior management at the council’s trust, ANGUSalive, have started a consultation process and have told the staff affected to expect a decision on their futures by December after the council imposed a budget cut of £36,000 - “reneging” on its originally agreed cut of £14,000.

However, ANGUSalive says no decisions have been reached and the initial figure was £16,000.

GMB says five members of staff may be affected, who between them have more than 80 years of experience in design and exhibition and have been “pivotal” in the growth of the arts in the Angus area, particularly at Forfar’s Meffan Institute.

The museum and gallery has gained a fine reputation in the arts community and houses local medieval artefacts.

GMB organiser Helen Meldrum said: “It makes no sense to impose these cuts when the trust has a full year of exhibitions confirmed and will require the expertise of the staff to ensure its success.

“We’ve been told by ANGUSalive that the £14,000 figure is a legacy cut agreed prior to the trust taking responsibility for local culture, sport and leisure services but no can give us any answers on why that amount has now more than doubled.

“Our members care deeply about their work and the reputation of the arts in Angus; they have delivered an incredible public service of national renown for next to nothing but now the council are in danger of unravelling this for a relatively meagre saving.

“GMB Scotland is calling on Angus Council to think again as they are in serious danger of ripping the heart out of local arts.”

A spokesman for ANGUSalive said: “A service review is currently ongoing to address a legacy budget saving which was already committed prior to the establishment of the trust.

“No decisions have been reached and we will consult with employees and their union representatives during this process.

“Should any reduction in employees or employee hours be necessary, we would hope to achieve this through voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

“Staff would also be eligible for redeployment.”