The Roads Service recently carried out a review of its street lighting function. The review’s recommendations, which involve the relocation of a small number of posts, are being considered in consultation with the trades unions, and a decision is not expected before the new year.
I am constantly looking at ways of making the Department more efficient and of improving our service to the public, and in some cases this may involve moving staff between offices.
The Minister must be unaware of the decision communicated by his predecessor in a letter to me dated 29 March 1999. That letter said that Rathkeltair House in Downpatrick would become the headquarters of the Roads Service consultancy, which will have responsibility for engineering design and contract supervision throughout Northern Ireland.
This happened when disciplines in the Roads Service were restructured. Jobs had been taken out of Downpatrick Division at that time, and the panacea was the creation and maintenance of the consultancy and engineering works in Downpatrick. Are we now engaged — and I hope not — in the further centralising of Government services?
I take it that the Member was referring to a predecessor of mine who took the decision.
The Roads Service is committed to carrying out best- value reviews and to constantly improving its services so that it is effective and gives value for money. Such reviews and improvements may, from time to time, conclude that services could be organised to serve the public better. However, the thrust of the Member’s response is in no way to be incorporated in the review that is under way, and the conclusions of which will be announced in the new year.