Transforming for the future

There is no doubt that this past year has seen a major change for us as an organisation, and for all our staff across every department. It has forced us to radically change our operational practices, rethink our service delivery, and flex to adapt to many unforeseen circumstances. However, in many ways this challenging journey has strengthened our organisation’s resilience and placed a greater emphasis on a ‘One Council approach’ for the future.

There is also no doubt that the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, the associated lockdown and restrictions has had an adverse impact on council’s finances. The closure of facilities, rather than save the council money, has had the opposite affect and added to the financial strain through the loss of income, which council relies on to help offset costs such as fixed overheads including staff costs, security and other premises costs.

With this in mind, it is important that council remains focused on continuing to deliver efficiencies and savings whilst investing in new technologies and resources to further enhance frontline services, and at the same time creating capacity for further investment in the borough. Council has therefore commenced a review of its organisational leadership structure, as part of our Financial Review and Transformation Project, initiated in October 2020, to enable new strategic thinking and a shared vision for our future as a high performing organisation.

An organisational leadership review consists of analysing the business and service function across council, employee leadership structure, and operating processes. For the review to be effective it will include examining the structure and remit of all strategic directorates and heads of service, along with their support structure and reporting processes.

Our current leadership structure has been in place since the council merger in 2015; it has supported council to continue to perform highly and to realise significant achievements for the borough. However, to ensure that the council remains high performing and can achieve its ambitions for the future, the leadership structure is being reviewed to ensure that it continues to be dynamic and has the flexibility, and adaptability, to transform as organisational needs change.

For any review to be successful it is important that all key stakeholders are engaged with during the process. The review process commenced in November when an independent review of the leadership structure was carried out. This review was conducted by Solace In Business Ltd, and involved a series of one-to-one interviews with the Chief Executive, strategic directors, political groups, heads of service and trade union representatives, to review roles and functions for the various service areas across council.

The full review process is outlined in the presentation provided.

The closing date is Monday 15 March at 5.00pm.

Have your say

This is an exciting opportunity for us as an organisation to shape the future delivery of our services, therefore your feedback is important to this process. Please review the presentation outlined and provide confidential feedback in the form below. 

Where appropriate additional information in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will be added to this page, so please do review on a regular basis to keep updated.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Creating and maintaining an engaged and motivated workforce is essential to the success of the Council and your question suggests that isn’t always the case, so the leadership team will be giving some thought to how we can improve that as part of our plans for change over the next 12 months.

Performance Management is about having clear goals, being clear about how each of us contribute to achieving those goals and being held to account for delivering on agreed objectives. Our Performance Management processes and approach will be about supporting individuals and teams to deliver, recognising our successes, and getting early warnings when things aren’t going to plan so that we can take action to put them right.

We are currently looking at ways that we can accelerate the harmonisation process, and we hope to have a completion date for that shortly. We will take the new working arrangements into account as we complete the process, so that we don’t have to duplicate effort and resource.

We have an on-going review of workspace, and any structure changes will be factored into this work. However, we have all developed ways of working more flexibly over the last 12 months and will be able to factor that into our future plans.

For many of you, there will be no changes to who your manager is. For those who’s manager will change, that will be discussed with you individually or as a team.

A key theme of this review was to align services in the most effective way to play to strengths and deliver Value for Money (VfM). The team providing maintenance support to our Sports and Leisure facilities are part of a larger team that allows us to use our resources most effectively. The proposed structure relies on cross team working and good collaboration because so much of what we do involves several service areas.

The existing management structure includes a number of roles across the organisation which have, or will be, vacated enabling the creation of these additional posts. It is difficult at this stage to give a definitive figure on efficiencies until all the roles have been filled.

he transformation hub is a permanent part of our new structure and is there to facilitate cross organisational working on complex strategic projects, as well as developing new transformation skills and processes across the organisation.

The Transformation Director roles will be a new model of working – a hybrid role where the postholder’s retain their Head of Service responsibilities, but with additional support allowing them to spend a portion of their time allocated to the TD role.

As the transformation hub develops, in addition to the TD roles there will be other opportunities to join cross organisation projects for a shorter period.

We will begin to implement the changes in April and aim to have the majority of role changes in place by the end of summer.  The Leadership development programme that will support the successful transition to the new ways of working will be delivered over the next 12 to 18 months.

The VS scheme was opened as part of the organisation’s efficiency programme. There are no plans to re-open the scheme this year.

The outcomes of this review are based on a comprehensive engagement and consultation process involving Political Parties, EMT, Trade Union representatives and Heads of Service, with the initial proposals now opened up via this forum for input from right across the organisation. Alongside that, there have been direct conversations with individuals and teams likely to be most impacted by changes, and these will continue as we begin to deliver the changes such as matrix and agile working, cross functional project management and strengthen accountability and performance management approach.

This is based on what the organisation has achieved since coming together in 2015, and the commitment and loyalty of its workforce. It is a well functioning organisation, and the purpose of the review is to focus on the future needs and opportunities. That said, our future success relies on us having an engaged and motivated workforce, and our leadership development programme will be key in enabling this.

These refer to more emphasis on cross organisation working, having an agile (responsive to change and looking for new approaches) and flexible approach, delivering at pace and increasing accountability and opportunity.

An excellent example of this would be the SLLC  project which has been a huge success for the Council and a great example of transformation. The success of the project was recognised and celebrated across the organisation, and it has been used as a benchmark for the transformation hub in the review.

This structure has been developed following engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including: EMT, Political groups, Trade Union representatives, and Heads of Service, along with input from this wider consultation process. As we move into our implementation stages, we will continue to involve teams and to welcome input for all staff members about the new structure and ways of working are implemented.

It is important that there is alignment between committee structures and organisational structures.  The Council is about to undertake a Peer Review and this will inform our future governance arrangements. Details of the re-structure plans will be shared with the Peer Review Team, and will be taken into account in their recommendations.

Recruitment to the PMO is underway. The transformation hub will include 2 Directors of Transformation roles, which will be a hybrid role with postholders retaining their Head of Service responsibilities but allocating a portion of their time to the DoT role. Many of the projects ked by the hub will be cross-organisational projects, and there will be opportunities for other staff members to join the project on a fixed term or hybrid basis.

We aim to move everyone into their new team structures by July. The remaining work to integrate teams by tiers is under review and we will be confirming a plan with timescales in the next few weeks.

  • Integrating 4 teams into 1 (3 former leisure centres and water sports) who had never worked together.
  • Operational readiness within 12 months from start in Sept 2019 (an incredible pace for any project of this nature let alone one with all the additional complexities)
  • Rationalisation of JDs in terms of numbers (something like 40 reduced to 20) achieving increased flexibility with a ‘one team’ approach and in content with a focus on level of responsibility rather than task.
  • Positive engagement with TU’s throughout the programme.
  • New ways of working across the piece, including informal consultation with staff on JDs.
  • Recognition by both Members and staff that the workforce is more engaged, more flexible and has a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Staff involvement in developing the vision for SLLC, developing rotas and working arrangements. Staff empowered to make decisions.
  • Staff engagement through monthly on-site sessions (before lockdown), through new Leisure Matters intranet page, site-based Champions, 1:2:1s (which circa 90 people attended)
  • Other council services involved through a new Wider Delivery Group. Survey of group members at the end of the project identified that this approach should be adopted on other projects
  • New Service Level Agreements with support services introduced (innovation within ABC) which codified agreed standards of service delivery.
  • Speed of decision-making at both Officer and Member level. Key decisions at the project Board generally took no more than 8 weeks.
  • Introduction of performance management framework (including Annual Service Plan and KPIs and Critical Success Factors to be used for an evaluation of the model in March 2022 ) eg
    • Finance eg reduction in net subsidy
    • Operational eg customer satisfaction rating
    • Customer Participation eg increased number of customers, increase in number of children learning to swim
    • Staff eg 95% of staff to have annual appraisals in place, reduction in absentee rates, staff satisfaction rates
  • Development of a ‘mixed economy’ model with in-house delivery of leisure service, social enterprise delivering the café and local businesses providing therapist services in the Health & Wellbeing suite
  • Introduction of new systems eg
    • Legend front of house management and customer booking
    • Listen360 customer satisfaction system
    • Continual assessment of swimming lessons through CoursePro
    • Halo gym retention app
    • Pilot for North Time and Data ‘clocking-in’ system

Staff Updates

As you are aware the situation with the Novel Coronavirus is continually changing.  As an organisation we are actively monitoring the situation and are corresponding with all relevant regulatory authorities, which will inform any further actions required.

Please read this staff memo with important information.

Staff Memo Issue 72 Coronavirus

Staff Memo Issue 1 Coronavirus
Staff Memo Issue 2 Coronavirus FAQs
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Workplace Health & Safety Measures Covid-19

The Estates, Facilities and Health & Safety Teams have been working extensively in all Council buildings to ensure all relevant health and safety measures are in place for staff to safely return to work in their normal working environment. All government recommendations have been implemented include hand sanitising stations, markers on floors to ensure distance between individuals and regular cleaning across buildings.

Chief Executive’s Briefing

Chief Executive’s Briefing: 13.08.21

Staff Health & Wellbeing

Health & Wellbeing


Recruitment will recommence on a limited basis. Internal vacancies can be accessed via the intranet or  Publicly advertised vacancies will continue to be advertised on the ‘Jobs’ section of the Council’s website.  Other HR updates will be communicated via the ‘Staff Updates’ webpage

Furlough Q&A’s

ABC Furlough Employee Guide_

Remote working

Advice for staff for working from home on GDPR and Data Protection to ensure you consider the same security measures as you would in normal circumstances.

A short presentation is available to assist you here: Remote Working Guidance

If you have any questions please contact:

Data Protection during a crisis

With the correct application of flexibility in our response to COVID19, we can carry out our statutory role and engage to keep the public safe and supported during this present public health emergency.

We must continue to acknowledge the important role that people’s information rights will continue to have, both around privacy protections and transparency around our decision-making.

A short presentation on how to comply with the law is available to assist you here: Data Protection during a crisis

If you have any questions please contact

Looking after your Mental Health During COVID-19
For advice given by the World Health Organisation on mental health and coping during COVID-19. Click Here

In Northern Ireland, the response is coordinated by the Public Health Agency (PHA) working under the Department of Health.  This coordination is currently operational, including preparations in the local Health & Social Care Trusts, and PHA are providing focused advice to relevant organisations.

The PHA are issuing general advice available on the following links:

Public Health Agency

Common questions about the virus

Travel advice

Please find attached communications guidelines regarding General Advice and Hand Washing Techniques. As further information becomes available staff will be kept updated via the Intranet, email updates and line management communications, as and when available.

However, it is important to remember our main message is:

If you have concerns following any recent travel you or your family may have undertaken, please review the links above.

Coronavirus symptom update:

This week, the Public Health Agency (PHA) announced a new symptom associated with Coronavirus.

Anosmia, the loss of smell or taste, has been added to the list of Coronavirus symptoms that people should be aware of and self-isolate with.

The three main symptoms of coronavirus are defined as follows:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • A new, continuous cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than normal)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

If you display any of these symptoms you must self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms first started. Anyone who lives with you (even if they do not have symptoms) should self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person in your home started having symptoms.

For more info log on to

Information regarding absence due to Coronavirus can be found in the Staff Memo Issue 2 FAQ’s document at