GMB call on Swanley Council to halt closure of conference centre with loss of 9 posts

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GMB, the union for local government workers, is calling for immediate answers regarding a consultation that Swanley Town Council have just started regarding The Olympic, which would result in the loss of 9 posts during the Christmas and New Year period. The Olympic operates as a conference centre as well as providing a bar and restaurant to the residents of Swanley.

GMB have seen a consultation document proposing that The Olympic on Beechenlea Lane in Swanley closes its bar and restaurant facility with a resulting loss of 9 posts.  The document states that ‘The Olympic will no longer operate as a bar/restaurant due to not covering operating costs’.  Julie Pilbeam, the Town Clerk, invited GMB and the staff to a meeting with just one day’s notice to inform them of the start of the consultation.

GMB are seriously concerned that not all Councillors are aware of this decision to close the bar and restaurant; that the taxpaying residents of Swanley have not been consulted in any way; that the consultation is being rushed through; and, that no proper information has been provided to justify the termination of the services provided.

This follows a strings of controversies within the ruling Conservative Group at Swanley where the Mayor resigned from his position alleging racism and the whip being withdrawn from a former leader due to a sexual harassment claim being upheld.

Nick Day, Membership Development Officer said “GMB is calling on Swanley Council to halt closure of The Olympic and answer the following 11 questions in regards to the consultation:

1. What other options were available and under consideration before this decision was made? If there were, what was the rationale for not taking them forward?
2. What were the costings for the other proposals and what are the ongoing costs of the agreed proposal?
3. Why is there no financial information provided in the proposal, in particular the budgets and costs for The Olympic for the past three years?
4. Where is the full business case for the proposal? Two sentences in Section 2 or the consultation document are unacceptable given that 9 posts are to be made redundant and a community service is to be closed.
5. Why is The Olympic no longer able to cover operating costs?
6. What actions have been taken to try and turn around The Olympic?
7. When was the decision made to close the bar and restaurant?
8. Who made this decision?
9. Does the decision to close the bar and restaurant need to go before all Councillors for approval or scrutiny?
10. Does the public have the right to see the proposals before they go ahead? If so why haven’t they?
11. Why were GMB only given 1 days’ notice of the meeting?
12. Why does the consultation need to happen now before proper notice can be given to GMB?

To tell such dedicated staff just before Christmas that their jobs are going is nothing short of heartless.

GMB, of course, will be on the side of staff through this difficult time but we ask the Council to not push ahead with this before the correct information requested is provided and a chance to properly scrutinise the proposal is allowed.”

Contact: Nick Day GMB Membership Development Officer 07717 510047

Notes to Editors

Mayor of Swanley Cllr Shanker Gaire and his deputy Cllr Tony Searles resign within days of each other