Thursday, 4 December 2008

Barnet Council slacking in pay rates


The Evening Standard has published a chart showing the pay scale for council leaders across the capital. The annual bill for London taxpayers is £28 million.



Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, is quoted as saying: “This is an obscene amount of money, particularly in the middle of a recession. These very same councillors have been complaining their councils are strapped for cash, but seem to have no qualms paying themselves excessive amounts. Council leaders earning huge amounts from some of London's poorest boroughs should be particularly ashamed.”

Clearly this doesn’t apply to our very own leader Mike Freer who is only the 16th highest paid out of 32 on a miserable £47,000. Well done Mike for paying yourself such a modest amount for your part time job.



What does this video clip have to do with this story? Absolutely nothing! But it’s nice to see that Brian Coleman has taken to heart David Cameron’s message about going green!

18 comments:

Rog T said...

David,

Remove this table immediately, you'll only give them ideas.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Rog

Don’t you realise how lucky we are to have such cheap councillors? Only recently Lynne Hillan told us that councillors could earn five times as much in the private sector. It must be true because Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said exactly the same thing to the Evening Standard.

I think we should all keep shtum and count our blessings.

Linda Howard said...

Don't Call Me Dave,

In the case of Lynne Hillan, surely if she were paid five times her private sector rate in some years she'd have ended up paying the Council a large sum. Or have I got that wrong somewhere?

MichaelH said...

I've always thought Brian "Fungus" Coleman was the bogeyman; now I know for sure!

Mrs T said...

Mr Miller,

Exactly what point are you trying to make? Mike Freer is good value for his money. His allowances are quite reasonable, compared to at least half of his peers. At least he is trying to improve things.

As to the video clip of Councillor Coleman. Was that really necessary? I am sure that plenty of Councillors have far more disgusting habits. Are we going to get videos of those as well?

Rog T said...

I suppose this makes makes Mike Freer "Billy one mate".

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Mrs T, welcome to the blog. Barnet councillors may cost us less than other boroughs, which is something to be grateful for, but the cabinet system is totally undemocratic and was imposed by the Labour government without a mandate.

The public have never been asked whether they want full time professional councillors. It should be for us to decide what type of local government we want, and how much we are prepared to pay for it.

Mike Freer says that the Chief Executive is responsible for the day to day running of the council, so why does he need £47,000? The fact that he receives less than some other council leaders doesn’t make it OK!

In Barnet we have 53 back bench councillors who have no say or influence. If Cllr Freer is going to push ahead with his plans to slim down the council, will we see a corresponding reduction in the number of councillors and allowances paid?

Mrs T said...

Good Morning Mr Miller,

The Labour Government reformed local Government, not Mike Freer. Barnet has to make the best of the system. I don't think that even you can possibly argue we haven't been dynamic and innovative. We were on BBC news leading the way this week. We are the most innovative council in the country. Every other council in Britain is taking notice !!!!!

As to the role of CEO and Council leader. Have you ever heard of the Term in Private Industry NON EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. Do you think non executive directors get paid nothing? A council leader does much more. £47,000 for the most dynamic council leader in Britain is a REAL BARGAIN.

As to your wish to abolish the rest of the councillors. Take as an example Totteridge ward. Who would you abolish Brian Coleman, Richard Cornelius or Caroline Margo - all excellent hard working councillors.

If you asked the people of Burnt Oak would they abolish Clare Farrier, Linda McFayden or Charlie O-Macauley. Although I disagree with that bunch, they do lots of work and all turn up for many meetings, even if it is to spout rubbish most of the time!!!!

You are a conservative, you should be pleased that we are trying to outsource services, save money and reduce the union stranglehold on Barnet. People who vote conservative, expected us to act like a conservative council, which is just what we've done.

David Cameron is fascinated by what Barnet are doing and if we are successful will use this as a model for all councils when he becomes Prime Minister.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Mrs T

I congratulate you for your brave effort to justify a system of allowances that has no democratic mandate, but are you seriously suggesting that for all those years when councillors gave their time for no financial reward, local government didn’t run effectively?

If you are going to use the analogy of council leaders as non executive directors, I would remind you that public companies have to submit directors’ remuneration packages to an annual vote of the shareholders. Those of us who foot the bill for your allowances have absolutely no say as to whether we are happy with the rate of pay.

Councillors are not forced by gunpoint to accept allowances. Nor do they have to stick rigidly with the cabinet system. When Michael Howard was Party Leader, he pointed out that there was no reason why councils couldn’t still operate under a committee style system - even if some councillors had fancy titles.

As a real Conservative I absolutely support the principle of slimming down the council. I said so on this blog on 18th August. Like so many public bodies, Barnet is bloated, wasteful and expensive to run. Efficiency savings are there for the making.

But any proposals need to be carefully considered by all affected - which frankly will be just about everybody in Barnet. If decisions are made solely on the recommendations of management consultants, then chaos will ensue.

Some public services clearly lend themselves to privatisation, but not all. The Conservative Party recognises this which is why we support the Post Office which could not survive if left to market forces. The cost to taxpayers of maintaining the Post Office outweighs the social cost of losing it. So it will prove to be with some council services.

Barnet Conservatives do not have a mandate for privatisation (the real word for outsourcing). It was not part of our manifesto at the last election and to try and implement changes of this magnitude without a mandate is simply asking for trouble.

As for reducing the number of councillors, I believe it is an absolute necessity. How can you argue for a slimmed down council yet at the same time retain all your perks and privileges? We are massively over-governed in this country. Why do we need 63 councillors for an area that manages to get by with 3 MPs, especially when it is the officers who do all the work?

As for which councillors should remain - that is a matter for the electorate. Just as it is a matter for party members alone to decide who should be allowed to stand in 2010.

Daniel Hope said...

Some funny posts here! "Mrs T" seems to be someone on the payroll. I'm guessing Mrs T isn't a relative of Rog. I suppose it is a sign of the sheer panic in the Leader's bunker that they are going to this much trouble.

Let's fisk the comments:

Mike Freer is good value for his money. His allowances are quite reasonable, compared to at least half of his peers. At least he is trying to improve things.

Truly garbled logic here, firstly you cite Mike Freer is worth the money he is paid (ie without him things would be a lot worse). Trouble is there is no data for this and the argument is undermined by his admission that he leaves Officers to run the place, not to mention the silly PR 'Leader Listen's' roadshow.

You then slip into the real measure that he is paid less than others. This is a completely different argument! It is just as unconvincing. Whether he is paid half or twice as much as other, as Conservative MP Douglas Carswell calls, parasitic councillors is irrelevant as to whether it is right.

The Labour Government reformed local Government, not Mike Freer. Barnet has to make the best of the system.

Correct. But the Labour Government didn't set national pay rates for Councillors. However the ALG (now London Councils) did set out independent guidance. Firstly they said that Councillors should be doing 20 hours a week work, secondly they stated that Councillors should only receive one extra allowance (SRA) and thirdly that less than half of the Councillor should receive an SRA.

Mike Freer decided to ignore all three of these independent findings. Barnet's own independent panel on member's renumeration is so concerned about this 'system' and can find no evidence to support it that it is conducting a root and branch review.

Secondly, Freer has taken Labour's system and centralised it even further than Labour wanted. For example, the LGA 2000 allows Area Planning and Environment Committees to carry out full functions and take real decisions nearest to their voters. In Barnet these Committees are pretty much emasculated with most work being done by the Cabinet or Officers.
Mike Freer also took legal advice to ban Conservative Councillors outside of the Cabinet from discussing or voting on what the Cabinet does in their private meetings.

I don't think that even you can possibly argue we haven't been dynamic and innovative. We were on BBC news leading the way this week. We are the most innovative council in the country.

I suppose if you think that cooking up half baked plans in secret and unleashing them on the voters without any political preparation as innovative, yes. Question is will this be more like the Poll Tax or Edgware General Hospital. Both dynamic, innovative and covered by the BBC!

A council leader does much more. £47,000 for the most dynamic council leader in Britain is a REAL BARGAIN.

I can't believe that she even believes this!

As to your wish to abolish the rest of the councillors.

No need to abolish them all. A reduction of a third would suffice, take one out from each Ward. The allowance should be reduced to under £2,000. This reflects the real work. There are people who do voluntary work who work harder than Councillors for no pay. If a Councillor wasn't prepared to do it for free they shouldn't be allowed to stand.

David Cameron is fascinated by what Barnet are doing and if we are successful will use this as a model for all councils when he becomes Prime Minister.

I am sure that Mr Cameron may well be interested in what he is being told about what Barnet is doing. Will be interesting to see how fascinated he will be if the Conservative vote falls into meltdown due to the incompetent way things are implemented.

I'm sure Mr Cameron is equally fascinated as to how Barnet Council is refusing to halt and opposing Government demands (without reasons) to stop giving planning permission on back gardens and to protect family homes.

Mike Freer is too busy being photographed quaffing champers with his Barratts buddies to worry about that.

Rog T said...

Dan & David,

Regardless of the true identity of Mrs T (whether she's a relation of mine with a brain injury or a Barnet/Tory insider), I think the most interesting thing is that it is the first attempt to justify and explain some of the shenanigans.

The implication, as I read it, is that Mike Freer and Barnet are being used as a test bed for future Tory council policy. He's already become a bag carrier for Villiers who is a shadow minister, he has a winnable seat and it looks to me as if maybe he's being lined up for greater things. If I were a Tory, I'd be asking central office what there opinion of Future Shape is and whether they really are "closely monitoring" it.

It's fascinating to see just how many posts are left with a degree of "plausible deniability" on the various Barnet blogs.

I initially thought the "Mrs T" was an attempt to wind me up, but then realised that was what we called a certain former Finchley MP before she was ennobled - delusions of Granduer somewhere?

Rog T said...

Dan,

I was fascinated to read your quote about Tory Councillors being forbidden from debating what goes on in cabinet. That really is Stalinist.

I cannot believe that anyone could possibly believe that this would improve the quality the of decision making. Either Freer believes that all of the councillors outside of cabinet are so completely thick and useless as to have no valuable input (supporting your arguement for slimming the council) or he's out of control.

The whole Freer administration reminds me of Breshnev in Russia. Toppled Kruschev, brought in grand schemes, squashed opponents, stifled debate, treated ordinary party members with contempt.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Rog

What I would like to know is whether taxpayers had to pay for this legal advice and, if so, whether it was an appropriate use of public money? You can’t use public money for party political purposes.

But far worse than Freer trying to stifle debate within his own party is the fact that the affected councillors have done nothing about it. Are they all spineless wimps? Or is it simply the case that they have abandoned their integrity in the hope of being thrown the bone of another Special Responsibility Allowance if they are all good little boys and girls?

do call me dave said...

"but the cabinet system is totally undemocratic and was imposed by the Labour government without a mandate."

So quite having a go at Mike and co. for having to work with a system they did not choose! For someone who is meant to be intelligient I worry!

do call me dave said...

I also think it is brilliant that former councillor Hope is so outspoken on a system he once took a wage from, I dont remember him being so anti at the time.... sour grapes and a hypocrite! You could'nt make it up!

Don't Call Me Dave said...

To Do Call Me Dave

Your ability to selectively read my comments suggests that you are a politician. Nobody disputes that the Cabinet system was imposed on the council - and indeed on all councils of all colours. That does not prevent local authorities from making the best of an ill conceived piece of legislation.

There are plenty of steps that the council could take to improve democratic accountability, but deliberately chooses not to. Scrutiny in Barnet is an absolute joke.

It was often claimed that Alan Williams used to rule the council with an iron fist. Well democracy is certainly getting a good fisting under the current leadership.

Daniel Hope said...

"do call me dave / crackhead"

I am as outspoken on the same issues that I am now as I was on the Council. That's what upset Freer and Hillan et al so much. In their eyes, you aren't allowed to have a brain and mouth and be a Councillor.

I think your use of narcotics is mangling your brain.

Rog T said...

Barnet Council presents stars in their eyes.

"So Mike, who are you going to be tonight"?

"Tonight Matthew I'm going to be Do Call Me Dave"

It seems that we have a plague of Invisible men in Barnet