AS the most senior member of Hastings Borough Council, I would like to comment on the latest wheeze by Councillor Birch’s Labour administration to oust the chief executive and in effect place himself and his deputy in the top tier position.
Cllr Birch claims that ‘job losses are necessary to deal with the reductions in funding’ but has singularly failed to come clean as to how much it will cost local taxpayers to dispense with the services of its chief executive.
There will almost certainly be a six-figured redundancy cost and an ongoing final salary commitment to be met.
This is the last thing the cash-strapped local authority needs particularly as the present incumbent was likely to have retired anyway in two years time.
It is also important for the public to take note that this ‘management restructuring’ represents a seismic shift in terms of the way our local council has traditionally worked.
The model accepted by most councils is to employ professionals and then to elect community representatives who set out their priorities which are then subject to professional advice and assistance. In addition, the statutory duties of any local authority can generally be delegated to suitably qualified council officers with provision for elected members to question their actions and to bring them to account if necessary.
Hastings Borough Council is about to embark upon a very different way of doing things whereby career-politicians assume the ultimate control.
It will also be very interesting to discover whether the council’s supreme leader and his deputy will demand an increase in their personal allowances in recognition of their additional responsibilities.
Finally, our MP Amber Rudd was quoted last week in the Observer as saying she would ‘strongly oppose this proposal and urge councillors to think very carefully.........when they vote on this’.
The reality, however, is that only the council cabinet will have a vote, the majority of which are from Cllr Birch’s political group which no doubt will be subject to a three-line whip.
Nice work if you can get it.
Liberal Democrat councillor