Reduce, reuse, recycle is a motto RCT Cabinet Members seem to be taking to heart, as recent letters by Maureen Webber and Andrew Morgan demonstrate. Same old repetitive lines, everything the fault of the UK government, and the poor Labour Councillors are working tirelessly to keep standards up here in RCT.
How often do they need reminding that it is the Welsh Government who set Local Authority budgets? Andrew Morgan says the Council will have to make some 'unpalatable' decisions to balance the books next year. Really? Depends on your definition of unpalatable I suppose, and where they decide to make those cuts. There are many cuts that could be made without affecting services at all.
The clue is in the title 'public services' - paid for with public money, and we are entitled to expect value for that money. Whilst the allowances paid to elected members are constantly hitting the headlines, the salaries paid to middle and senior management are not subject to nearly as much scrutiny, but are nothing short of scandalous.
The Director of Education was appointed in 2011 on £113,000 having been acting in that post for some considerable time before that. The Estyn inspectors' report on the department found it falling far short of required standards and it is subject to further monitoring. Yet the Director's salary is safe.
In making the appointment they spent £7,671.50 on external recruitment consultants - why when we pay a Human Resources Director the best part of £100K a year and have a whole raft of supposedly qualified staff below him? When they revised the terms and conditions of the lower paid workers they spent £100,000 on legal advice from Eversheds despite having a substantial legal department in house. They run a strategy department which costs over £1million a year in staff costs alone and spend over £90,000 on promoting the Council via GTFM radio.
Yes, some difficult decisions they could make about spending there.
Cllr Morgan also accuses opposition Assembly Members of voting against the Council Tax Relief Scheme. This is simply untrue. They voted in the first instance against having a rushed vote on the matter when they had been given only 15 minutes notice and were expected to debate and decide upon a 300+ page report. The Labour Minister expected them to put their hand up in the air on his say so with no real scrutiny.
As a result of that the Assembly was recalled the following week and after certain guarantees were put in place the scheme was passed. The Welfare reforms are not ideal, and there are certain aspects that have given many of our members cause for concern. However, it is pretty rich for a cabinet member to suggest that "instead of seeking to score political points opposition Councillors in RCT will work with our administration" when all he seems capable of is political mud slinging.
Campaign Manager RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats