Friday, 18 February 2011
Local Government Minister Bob Neill has rightly complained about the proliferation of non-jobs created whilst Labour were in Government. For example, Angus Council hired a Bouncy Council Attendant at £13,000 a year and Falkirk Council employed a Cheerleading Development Officer.
Whilst some of these jobs are quite clearly unnecessary, Mr Neill has seemingly overlooked Conservative controlled Barnet Council which is also guilty of creating superfluous positions.
When Mike Freer was leader of the council, he created the new position of Cabinet Advisor, even though this ‘job’ was already within the remit of the Chief Executive’s duties.
The first person appointed to this supposedly non-political position was his friend, the former Tory Councillor Vanessa Gearson (she’s the delightful lady who stabbed Iain Duncan-Smith in the back when he was party leader). Her salary was a mere £59,860 a year.
Was the Chief Executive’s pay reduced by a corresponding amount as a result of Dr Gearson taking on some of his responsibilities? Hardly! In 2002, when the Tories took control, the Chief Executive was paid £113,000 a year. Today, his salary is over £200,000.
When Dr Gearson was promoted to the Communications Department to become the council’s chief spin doctor, her Cabinet Advisor position was filled by another of Freer’s friends, Richard Robeson, who was also a prominent Conservative Party supporter.
Robeson had previously been a political advisor to the Conservative Group on the council. Labour have a political advisor as well. Total cost to the taxpayer in 2009 was £85,360 (plus benefits).
Why should taxpayers have to pay for blatantly political appointments? These are precisely the type of positions that the council should scrap before making the sheltered housing wardens redundant, or putting up CPZ charges.
Unfortunately in Barnet we have a political leadership that would rather insult its residents and surround itself with taxpayer funded cronies than cut out waste and bureaucracy.