Council has lived above its means

The announcement that an axe has now been taken to reduce the number of senior managers working for Scarborough Council will, I am sure, be viewed by many residents and ratepayers as welcome news but will also be considered by an equal number as “too little too late”.

Scarborough Council has in fact been living well above its means, funded by us, for at least the past 25 years.

When I first joined the council 13 years ago the big issue then was a scheme operating in the Town Hall called Golden Carrots. This was a cunning ploy, dreamed up by the then Chief Executive and his management team, to pay senior managers enhanced wages because, so they claimed, nobody wanted to work for Scarborough Council as the basic wages were too low.

Once this ridiculous claim was found to be false and the scheme scrapped it was not long before new strategies were found by management to enhance senior officer pay. Indeed between 1999 when the scheme was abolished and now senior officer pay has by my estimates more than trebled.

Moreover, empire building has been almost endemic in the Town Hall. The old Personnel Committee and its replacement the Human Resources Committee, on which I sat, was inundated with requests from senior officers for extra staff. At that time these requests were in effect just rubber stamped and the new posts created.

However, through constant challenges from me, and eventually a few other councillors, the formula for acquiring extra staff via the consent of a committee of elected members was stopped. Good news we all thought. Sadly not a bit of it.

The empire building just continued only now, as management had cut elected members out of the loop; senior officers could decide how many staff they needed below them without asking anyone. This resulted in the empires getting ever bigger which has, as we can now all see, resulted in the drastic, although still not enough, reductions in senior management.

However, welcome as these reductions in our top heavy management structures are, they will not, unfortunately in themselves, lead to reductions in our council tax. The real savings can only be made when the same treatment is administered to North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).

The vast bulk of the money we pay in rates ends up in Northallerton and it is this Ivory Tower that needs felling.

Next May we go to the polls in the county council elections and I will be standing as a candidate for Eastfield and Osgodby, should I be successful in this election I can say now that I will support, as I have on Scarborough Council, any and all moves to put the NYCC fat cats on a very strict diet.

Cllr Norman Murphy

Independent

Northstead Ward

Town Hall

Scarborough