Wage bill for Norwich City Council top bosses under fire

The pay of top bosses at Norwich City Council has come under fire from the Liberal Democrats, who say they should not be earning up to half-a-million a year between them, at a time when frontline services are under threat.

With the city council due to set its budget for 2011/12, the Liberal Democrat group have attacked the pay and structure of six senior managers, which was published as part of moves to make local councils more transparent.

The Lib Dem group say taxpayers' money would be better spent preserving front-line services and are proposing that the number of officers on the corporate management team is halved.

But Labour says it has already reduced the number of top officers at City Hall and pointed out that when the Lib Dems were in control of City Hall they left a gaping black hole in the city council's finances, so the Labour group were unlikely to listen to them when it came to financial advice.

Judith Lubbock, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at City Hall, said: 'I am deeply concerned that at a time of tight budgets in the public sector this council is spending over half-a-million pounds a year on six employees.

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'Norwich is a district council, not a county or unitary authority which have far greater responsibilities such as education and social services. As a city we have to ask ourselves whether a salary of �125,000 plus add-ons is justified.

'We know that cuts need to be made because of the financial mess the Labour government left us in, but the Liberal Democrats believe that, rather than cutting frontline services or community grants, we should look at the structure and pay of our senior officers.'

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She said at this month's budget council meeting, the Liberal Democrats will propose streamlining the management structure at City Hall by cutting that team from six to three.

But Steve Morphew, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'We have already taken out significant management costs – one director, two assistant directors and several heads of service this year, but we need to keep management capacity to drive further efficiencies. That is what we did last year and it enabled us to save �10m without cutting front line services.

'The Lib Dem track record doesn't suggest we should take them seriously – whilst in power they ran up a black hole and left us with a financial system that nearly destroyed the council; proposals for the budget a couple of years back led to the head of finance giving council an official warning that if we followed Lib Dems proposals the council would go bankrupt.

'In terms of restructuring, the Lib Dem restructuring of the housing service when in power took out too much management and left the service blowing in the wind with inevitably dire consequences we are only just recovering from properly. 'So we are not likely to take their financial or structural advice anyway.'

What do you think? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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