Friday 6 February 2009

Council salaries - who calls the shots?

At the Hendon Residents Forum on Thursday, I asked the following question:

Will the Council be following the example set by President Obama and freezing the salaries for senior officers during the recession?

The council replied:

The annual salary rise for Council employees is covered by national negotiating machinery. The Council cannot therefore unilaterally impose pay freezes and implements the pay rises agreed by the employer’s side and staff side.

For those who believe in localism, the concept of national pay bargaining is a relic from 1970s. Council pay should be set by councils themselves. That is what democratic accountability is all about.

But according to an article in this week’s Barnet Times, the council can set its own pay levels. Apparently, the council has had difficulty recruiting a Director of Children’s Services and has agreed to increase the salary available.

So if the council can put pay up, to reflect recruitment difficulties, why can it not impose a freeze where no such difficulties occur?

Defending the decision, council leader Mike Freer said “We either lose good people to councils paying the market rate or we increase the amount we’re willing to pay.” On one level it is easy to sympathise with Freer’s dilemma. But on another level, doesn’t this just suggest that councils across the whole country are paying senior staff far too much, causing unnecessary wage inflation?

The Conservative Party Chairman, Eric Pickles, recently criticised six figure salaries for chief officers. The Conservatives are now the largest party in local government and therefore have the ability to stop this gravy train in its tracks.

Nobody disputes the need for Barnet to hire the best person possible for the position, but anyone who thinks that £100,000 (plus gold plated pension) is not a good salary does not live in the real world. Most residents will find the idea of the new Chief Executive being paid over £200,000 obscene at the best of times, but even more so in a recession.

There are many thousands of experienced executives now without work who are more than capable of taking on senior posts within local authorities. Mike Freer is very keen to promote his “Future Shape” project to outsource/privatise services to reduce costs, so why not let Barnet be an example to the rest of the country and start outsourcing chief officers posts as well?


Anonymous said...

The Conservative Party would first have to win control of Barnet Council.

Rog T said...


I'd be happy to pay top dollar for competent people. Given what's happened in Barnet over the last few years, we've paid top dollar and got a bunch of incompetents.

If we were sitting back saying "Thank heaven Barnet's finance officer didn't invest in Iceland" maybe you'd feel slightly different. This bunch with all their plasma screen tellies on their desks cost a fortune and are not delivering.

Anonymous said...

You can’t blame officers wanting huge salaries when they see the likes of Coleman raking in more than £100,000 a year for doing what exactly?

Unknown said...

David you seriously have a bad obsession with Barnet Council. Get a life and why trawl across the Borough to go to forums, have you nothing better to do?

Oh forget that I know you don't!

Don't Call Me Dave said...

"do call me dave"

If the councillors developed some backbone and held the Executive to account, I dare say I would find other things to do, but clearly some of us take the concept of democratic accountability more seriously than you. In the mean time, I consider this blog my civic duty.

Rog T said...

"Do Call Me Dave"

And what is your sad obsession? It seems all you do is spend your life looking for opportunities to

a) Insult David Miller
b) Try and kid the rest of us that Mike Freer isn't as useless as he seems

Are you some sort of stalker? How do you "know" what David does with his spare time or what else he has to do? Do you hide in the bushes in his garden and spy?

David, if I were you I'd get a restraining order.

Anonymous said...

It is just me or has anyone else noticed that 'do call me dave' has never had anything positive to say about Barnet, never a hint at caring about any issue or any concern about things running as they should.

He's just a hitman for Freer. Nothing more nothing less. Isn't it astonishing that noone else of the hundred thousand people plus in Barnet will come to his defence!

Unknown said...

You could always get a job ex councillor hope, you know one of those 9am to 5pm things! I might be less annoyed about my taxes being wasted and therefore be a nicer person!

Anonymous said...

I get more done in 1 hour than you get done in one day. No doubt you, whoever you are, sit in clouded room of smoke with the curtains drawn mind fuzzed over from your recreational activities - given the quality of your writing.

Anonymous said...

i very much doubt do call me dave is a hitman of freer's.

he is just freer.

the idiot.