The Labour Councillors in RCT met on 27th August in a bid to sort out the issues surrounding the proposed pay increase for three officers, including most controversially the Labour supporting Head of Strategy.
A report was put to the Council in July suggesting a 15% increase as a result of a reorganisation of responsibilities. In a private meeting with press and public excluded there was a revolt by several Labour members which resulted in a decision to refer the report back for further work.
The Labour group meeting was called in an attempt to avoid any such embarrassment at the next Council meeting and to whip members into doing as they are told. After what we believe was some very heated discussion the majority of the group fell in line.
This morning a press release was sent out from RCT Council - indeed rom Mr Hanagan's department stating that the Labour leader has ordered a full review of the management structure in order to save money.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell said this is just a smoke and mirrors move by the Labour party to push through changes that met with considerable opposition from Councillors and the public.
"There is a growing band of Labour Councillors who are becoming increasingly unhappy with the way in which the administration are acting, making swingeing cuts whilst looking after their pet projects. Of course we welcome a reduction in senior management, it is something we have been saying should happen for some considerable time, long before the current financial problems started to bite so hard.
"However, the pay increases being talked about for existing officers taking on extra responsibilities seem out of proportion - an extra 15% at a time when front line employees have seen just a 1% increase and many of those are finding themselves having to take on extra duties.
"The most controversial of course is the realignment of the post of the current Head of Strategy and Public Relations. His current job was created especially for him, it was never advertised and he was simply promoted with no interview. As a former Labour Council candidate and the son of a Cabinet Member then it is easy to see why the public are in uproar at this.
"RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats have said over and over that in our opinion much of his department could be scrapped and it would not affect front line services one bit. There is no justification for making it any larger or increasing the salary of the person in charge.
"I was not able to be at the last Council meeting when this was discussed but understand from conversations with several disgruntled Labour Councillors that there was a significant degree of rebellion amongst their ranks. I have also been told that the Labour group meeting on the 27th was heated to say the least, but that in the end the group agreed that they would oppress forward and that they would vote through the increases when next they come to Council.
"It says a lot about the way in which the Labour group dictate to their members, and is yet more evidence of the total lack of democracy within RCT Council."
The RCT press release reads:
New Council Leader Andrew Morgan and the Council's Chief Executive have set a target of reducing the cost of senior management within the Council by up to £1M. A report will be presented in September outlining how the new management structure for the Council will look.
County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said:
"I made a commitment following my election as Leader that as part of decisions we would need to consider to bridge the £70M budget gap we potentially face over the next three years, that I would seek to make significant savings in senior management costs.
"As we begin to consider the next set of difficult decisions to ensure we deliver a balanced budget next year I believe now is the right time to consider our senior management requirements.
"To facilitate this I have requested that the Chief Executive develop a new management structure for consideration in the near future, designed to achieve savings of up to £1M, whilst accepting that adequate management arrangements still need to be in place to ensure we are able to provide the key services our residents need.
"As we have always made clear, every area of expenditure is under review as we seek ways to address the shortfall in funding we face as a result of UK Government cuts and we have stated that senior management posts would be considered alongside the tough service changes we will inevitably need to implement. "These savings can only be achieved through the deletion of posts with responsibilities then being shared between the remaining officers. As part of this process there will be a need for the re-grading of some posts, to account for the additional responsibilities allocated to those officers remaining this approach is both equitable and practical in order to make a saving of this magnitude.
"The Williams Review highlighted the cost effectiveness of our arrangements when compared to other local authorities in Wales, but we feel that we can with care reduce our costs even further.
"The necessity to find these savings will inevitably impact both organisationally and on individuals, but I hope we can achieve these savings through a managed and structured process. Any new management structure must still ensure that we deliver effective services and fully meet our statutory obligations and that we do this efficiently, economically and with limited risk. I am confident from my conversations with the Chief Executive that this is achievable."
Appropriate consultation with Council staff and Trades Unions will be necessary as part of this process.
The Labour Councillors in RCT met on 27th August
A revolt by several Labour members which resulted in a decision to refer the report back for further work.