Job fears triggered as Kew seeks further efficiencies

Plans to restructure public programmes department lead to fears of further job losses.

Kew: says proposed changes will build on recent success of visitor programmes and income generated by them (HW)
Kew: says proposed changes will build on recent success of visitor programmes and income generated by them (HW)

The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew plans to restructure its public programmes department to make it more "efficient", leading to fears of further job cuts. The move coincides with the resignation of department director Gaynor Coley after two years in the job. She left Kew on 30 October to lead a start-up in Wales - a public education and conservation project that is still in development and commercially confidential.

A Kew representative said Coley's departure has "offered an opportunity to re-evaluate how we achieve the most efficient structure for the directorate". In the 2014-15 financial year Kew cut almost 100 posts, including around 47 science roles, in the face of budgetary pressures.

The public programmes department includes Kew Enterprises, content and media, engagement and interpretation, participation, visitor services, library, art and archives, marketing and PR. There were no indications of where restructuring was aimed or which staff might be affected.

"RBG Kew is currently carrying out a re-evaluation of its visitor-facing programmes and operations. Reporting lines will be examined to best serve the organisation as efficiently as possible," said Kew. "These proposed changes will reflect what we have learnt over the past two years and will build on the recent success of our visitor programmes and the income they have generated."

Kew added that visitor figures have improved over the past couple of years. "We are happy with the trajectory we are on, particularly in regards to our Christmas festival, which is producing extremely healthy ticket sales."

Latest figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions show that Kew had 1,368,565 visitors in 2014 - up from 1,324,499 in 2013 and 1,023,501 in 2012.

Kew was unable to disclose anything more with the proposed restructure now under consultation. Tina Houlton, head of marketing and communications, will act as department director in the interim. Julie Flanagan is negotiations officer for Kew members of the Prospect union, which covers specialist posts including scientists, librarians and archivists. Although she has not been told of cuts to specialist areas, it is a point of concern and the union is involved in the proposal.

"We're obviously concerned about further job losses at Kew, certainly for Prospect's members - we might be looking at specialist posts in the library, art and archive collection," said Flanagan.

She is hopeful that restructuring could mean movements within Kew departments rather than layoffs. However, she said Kew has raised the possibility of a voluntary redundancy scheme, which suggests that jobs are likely to go.

Flanagan added that like many public bodies Kew is awaiting the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25 November to see whether further budget cuts await.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

It's now around one year since work started on Sheffield's groundbreaking "Grey to Green" scheme, one of the largest urban green infrastructure projects in the UK.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Contracts & Tenders

Sally Drury on professional gardening

Sally Drury

A monthly checklist of things to do and watch out for to keep your garden looking its best.