Denbighshire row over ‘abhorrent’ brand new £100K senior management role
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A row broke out at Denbighshire County Council when councillors were criticised for not reading paperwork before creating a brand new £100,000-a-year senior role.
Councillors met at a special meeting this week to discuss restructuring the council’s senior leadership team, which involved creating a new and third corporate director role.
This new role – the corporate director for support services – is being created in addition to an existing vacancy for a second corporate director, which appeared to confuse several councillors.
Chief executive Graham Boase said the senior leadership team were fire fighting and needed to invest in strong leadership.
Cllr Joan Butterfield then encouraged members to vote in favour of the new role. She said, “After all, we are only filling a vacant post.”
After some opposition to the new role, Cllr Bob Murray then also appeared to believe that councillors were voting to fill the corporate director post vacated by the current chief executive Graham Boase – instead of creating a new senior role.
“The chief executive left,” he said. “Graham took over the post, and we are being asked to fill his post. Where’s the problem?”
Cllr Gwyneth Ellis called it a disgrace that several councillors appeared to have not read the paperwork, and Cllr Penlington said the meeting should be scrapped if councillors didn’t know what they were voting for.
The debate then turned to the cost-of-living crisis and the moral implications of spending over £100,000 on senior management went residents were struggling to pay their food and electricity bills.
Cllr Gwyneth Ellis said councillors should reject the proposals, arguing there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant backing the plans.
“In this current financial environment, one of the most important principles is that we, as a council, should get value for money for every penny spent,” she said.
“I don’t believe these proposals allow us as councillors to ensure that. The report describes the current structure, but there is no analysis of the council’s performance, and the performance is expected to improve in the future. Such an analysis would allow us as councillors to identify the disadvantages of the current structure and how the new structure would improve things.”
Cllr Ellis also said there was information missing, regarding pensions, additional costs or other supportive job roles. adding: “Also it doesn’t give a detailed breakdown of the cost of the restructure. I think we really need to know the cost of this scheme.
“I’m surprised the cabinet is allowing this proposal to come into the council, no costs, no clean measurable benefits, no way of judging whether it is going to be successful, no clear performance expectation.”
Cllr Glen Swingler called the proposals “abhorrent” adding that “there is a cost-of-living crisis”.
“That is not just for the people of Denbighshire but for the county council as well. We are going to be burdened with another £150,000 by creating just one post. Whilst the people of Denbighshire struggle on a daily basis, I find this abhorrent at this time.”
Cllr Paul Penlington added: “This proposal has got a lot of words but doesn’t say very much. What’s it going to cost? What are the benefits going to be? We don’t know. On that basis, I can’t possibly vote for something like half a million or even more over the next few years. I was speaking to a woman the other day whose children wear two or three jumpers in the evening, and they light the house with candles. What shall I say to them, we’ve just created a corporate director who is going to cost you half a million pounds over the next few years?”
Chief executive Graham Boase asked councillors to support the plans.
“It is difficult times, and nobody saying it isn’t difficult times,” he said.
“There are more difficult times ahead. It is for that reason that it is more appropriate to invest in our senior management leadership to ensure we are fit to be able to give the right direction and to make the right decisions, which are about supporting frontline services and the services we provide to our communities.”
Cllr Brian Jones agreed councillors should support the plans.
“We voted this chief executive in eight months ago,” he said.
“You gave him the confidence then to take on the role. Members voted him into position. You’ve got to give him the backing.”
The vote was passed 27-6 with one abstention. A council remuneration panel placed the job at the senior leadership salary of £107,374 – £110,670.
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