Saturday, 21 August 2010

It's been a while...

Well, after a hiatus which was forced mainly through working a lot since the election I thought I would return to the blogsphere. I won't bother recapping what happened at the election - there were some surprises...but you know all about that.

So what inspired me to return, well it's our friends up at County Hall who, despite many of them being on their summer holidays, have continued to make regular appearances in the local press. Not least Kevin "Moneybags" Lavery along with former corporate director Peter Lewis and new children's services director Trevor Doughty. Firstly our man from the north, Mr Lavery, found himself in the Sunday Times no less, due to his fat pay packet which placed him in the top 30 chief execs of local councils in the country - and at £238,000 it's obscenely high. Now, when Dave entered Number 10 in May one of the first things he did was to take a 5% pay cut - clever Dave, leading by some kind of example and showing that everyone would be affected by the cuts that the coalition is making. Admittedly on his £145,000 salary he is still earning far more than most of us can ever dream of making in a year and he has a rent-free bolthole in Downing Street, but all the same he did take a cut.

Would our Kev follow suit? Don't be daft - when a member of the public asked such a question of the council's cabinet recently leader Alec Robertson answered with a blank "No". Just a few weeks later Kev and Alec appeared together to announce that the council would be shedding 2,000 jobs over the next four years....perhaps if Kev would just agree to reduce his salary to the level of Mr Cameron that would save the council almost £100k a year - I'm sure that would ensure the safety of at least 4-5 jobs. Let's get the other corporate directors to drop from their current salaries of around £140k each to, say, £100k and we would save around another £240k - possibly between 10 and 12 jobs saved.

Will this happen, highly unlikely, we're more likely to see our library service sliced, our rubbish collections turned fortnightly and leisure centres hived off to the private sector.

As for Mr Lewis, mystery still surrounds his £78k pay-off earlier this year, although if the rumours which are said to be flying around County Hall are to be believed that pay-off is completely unjustified. And despite the fact that that £78k has come from public funds both Mr Lavery and Mr Robertson seem very reluctant to give any further explanation.

Then there is Mr Doughty, another character at County Hall who was delighted to announce his appointment when he arrived on a cushy £140k but when it was revealed that he had received a pay-off of more than £140k from his previous employers in Northumberland he suddenly came over all shy.

It would seem that while Mr Cameron and his Government is trying to cut the amount of wastage going on in Whitehall they would do well to turn their attention to what is going in town halls and the gravy train that officials are continuing to enjoy a joyride.

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