Redundancies planned amid ‘right-sizing’ of council’s Meridian Water project team

Enfield Council scaling down its Meridian Water operation at the civic centre after “completion of several workstreams”, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Work continuing at Meridian One, the first phase of the project
Work is continuing at Meridian One, the first phase of the project

Job cuts are being planned for Enfield Council’s Meridian Water project team under a restructure designed to save £2.6million.

The council is set to slash the number of posts on the team from 45 to 20, citing the need to make “significant financial savings” on the current £4.9m costs coupled with the end of initial works on the project.

It is set to save around £2.3m on the current £4.3m salary bill, with further savings to be made on management and support services. The estimated pension and redundancy costs associated with the restructure total £471,000.

A new council report reveals 28 roles are set to be cut, a number of which are already vacant. It adds that the changes would put twelve officers at risk of redundancy, although the council has confirmed that this could fall to nine if new roles are found for three staff members.

The council has pledged to support staff and “seek to minimise job losses and redundancies”.

The restructure comes shortly after an updated financial model signalled a reduction in the number of affordable homes planned for council-owned sites and delays to key infrastructure works on the scheme, which has been hit by spiralling construction costs.

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Earlier this year, during a consultation on the proposals, Meridian Water programme director Peter George left his role after eight years in charge.

Despite the various setbacks, council leader Nesil Caliskan has insisted plans for the flagship Edmonton regeneration scheme “remain the same” – including a pledge to build 10,000 homes in total and ensure 40% of these are classed as affordable.

The report on the restructure reveals plans to merge four separate teams into one “clearly defined functional workstream”. It says the council has “moved away from direct delivery and development agreement” as a result of budget pressures and changes to market conditions caused by “the war [in Ukraine], hyperinflation and forthcoming recession”.

The UK is not currently in recession with the economy growing 0.1% in the final quarter of 2022, but inflation remains in double figures.

Several Meridian Water workstreams have now been “successfully completed”, the council report adds, including the completion of a construction skills academy and the setting up of a “social value matrix”.

The report also states that the “masterplan vision” of the project is “substantially complete” and is “not expected to be revisited for a number of years” – although there is no indication of when the updated document will be published. The original masterplan was published ten years ago.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “The council has a duty to offer the best value for money for its residents. We are right-sizing the Meridian Water team to reflect the current needs of the project with no risk to delivery.”

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