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.