Anger as Norfolk County Council looks to create two highly paid officer roles at time of cuts

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Bosses at Norfolk County Council have come under fire for looking to create two highly paid officer roles at a time when the authority is having to consider cutting millions of pounds.

And UNISON has slammed proposals to create a new director of strategy, saying it is similar to a post which was axed just months ago - with a £250,000 payment for the officer who lost their job.

Members of Norfolk County Council's personnel committee met yesterday to discuss managing director Dr Wendy Thomson's proposed re-arrangement of the County Hall staffing structure. The public and press were excluded from the discussions.

The proposals, which will now come before full council next Monday, followed recommendations by consultants LKSQuaero - who were paid about £12,000 to carry out the work.

If agreed, that will see the creation of a new strategy director - heading up the council's strategic functions of human resources, communications, intelligence and strategy and delivery, with a salary of between £90,000 and £103,000.

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But that has come in for criticism, given, in September a review Dr Thomson saw the exit of Anne Gibson from her post of executive director of corporate resources, with a severance package of £250,000.

Jonathan Dunning, county secretary for UNISON, said: 'The core responsibilities of the proposed strategy director read very similar to the corporate resources director post that was recently made redundant on the basis that the associated costs would be met from savings within as I recall, 18 months. It seems this saving is being spent before those 18 months have lapsed.'

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Other proposals would see the creation of a chief legal officer and monitoring officer, separate from the council's legal trading arm nplaw and the role of head of budgeting and financial management will be formalised as assistant director of finance.

The chief legal officer role would have a salary of between £90,000 and £103,000 and the assistant director of finance between £90,000 and £95,000.

The pay scale for the executive director of finance is also recommended to increase to reflect added responsibilities and would now be between £130,000 and £140,000.

Two council departments - the corporate programme office and the corporate planning and partnership team - will be 'disestablished' and it is not currently clear what that will mean in terms of jobs.

But Mr Dunning said: 'At a time when front line services are being cut it seems perverse to increase senior management posts and to probably increase expenditure.

'If the increased costs are to be met from savings as the wider restructure rolls out then this would be unfair in the extreme to those staff who would thus face the risk of redundancy.'

He added: 'That is not the way to conduct a reorganisation nor the way to treat loyal, hard working junior members of staff.'

However, the county council said the changes to senior management arrangements would save £73,000 a year, compared to 'previous arrangements'.

And a spokeswoman said the new director of strategy post was not the same as the post which was deleted. She said it is a more junior role and does not include responsibility for 'significant areas', such as public health, IT, procurement or human resources transactional services.

NOTE: This story has been changed from the original version, as Norfolk County Council has said one of the roles - the assistant director of finance is not new, but is a realigned version of an existing post. The pay bracket for the strategy director has also been amended.

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