£297,000 council officer ‘fat salaries’ decision a ‘slap in the face’ for residents
Rhiannon James, Local Democracy Reporter
An Independent councillor has said the council’s recent decision to create two new senior officer positions at a cost of nearly £300,000 is a “slap in the face” for Caerphilly county borough residents.
On Wednesday, October 19, cabinet members approved proposals to create a deputy chief executive role and a deputy section 151 finance officer, at a cost of £297,000.
At the meeting, the chief executive Christina Harrhy said the additional roles are needed for the council to achieve what’s being asked of it, and the current team is “tired, stretched and depleted”.
Mrs Harrhy said: “I’m not asking for new budget to support these roles but to re-purpose.”
Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix said: “I find it extraordinary, and a slap in the face for the people of Caerphilly that in a time of rising cost Labour has chosen to employ a deputy chief executive, and 151 officer at a cost of £300,000 a year.
“Labour has tried to justify these appointments by arguing that the council’s top team is tired, stretched and depleted. We are all feeling tired, and stretched, but we knuckle down and get on with the job.”
The cost of a deputy chief executive is estimated at £189,000 and the cost of a deputy section 151 finance officer is £108,000.
A section section 151 officer has responsibility of accounts, any unlawful financial activity involving the authority, and balancing the budget.
The cabinet also agreed to create an internal recruitment team to tackle the recruitment and retention challenges it’s currently facing. This is expected to cost £320,000.
Cllr Dix said: “The reality is that all Welsh councils have gone through Covid and are trying to get back on their feet, yet none have decided to double up on senior officer posts.
“The public are rightly outraged by these appointments, this is not the time for creating highly [paid] jobs, the council needs to work to preserve existing jobs and services – they can do this by investing the £620,000 back into front line services that have served us throughout the pandemic.
“However, it appears Labour likes creating highly-paid jobs for the few while the rest of us foot the bill.”
Plaid Cymru’s council group leader, Cllr Lindsay Whittle, also criticised the “fat salaries” given to the two new positions. He added that the council had its priorities all wrong.
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