A council has been criticised for creating seven new ‘unnecessary’ posts.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, announced last week that he had decided to introduce assistant portfolio holders as part of an ‘experiment’ which would be reviewed after three to six months.
He said he believed it would be a positive change for councillors and residents but Cllr David Nettleton said he was ‘surprised’ as the idea was discussed and unanimously rejected by the joint constitution group earlier this year.
According to Cllr Griffiths, assistants will spread the current work load of portfolio holders whilst gaining more experience of the workings of the council and the ability/powers to do more in and for their wards.
He said: “This is good news, to give more councillors the opportunities to get more involved and to improve communications and the service St Edmundsbury and its councillors can give to the people it represents.”
But Cllr Nettleton has questioned the need for deputies and says he suspects it will have financial implications.
In addition to their basic allowance, each year cabinet members (portfolio holders) receive a special responsibilty allowance (SRA) of £5,890 and, though assistants will not be entitled to SRA, Cllr Nettleton believes that could change.
“No payment is planned for these seven apprentices but I suspect that when the newly-formed Independent Remuneration Panel meets in the summer, there will be a suggestion made that they are paid a SRA,” he said.
“It’s not going to cost anybody anything,” said Cllr Griffiths, adding: “It’s not a dramatic change, it’s a development to hopefully improve things further at St Edmundsbury.”
The new posts have been filled by Richard Rout, Simon Brown, Clive Springett, Susan Glossop, David Roach, Clive Pollington and Carol Bull.