Ryeview – March 2008

Do we really want to spend more on extra officers?

John Clark writes…

First published: March 2008 – Gazette & Herald

Ryedale District Council is short of money; Ryedale District Council has to make savings of £3/4 million over the next three years; Council Tax will go up by more than inflation. All these have been broadcast as ‘facts’ over recent months. Four weeks ago I predicted that although Council Tax didn’t need to it would rise above the rate of inflation.

Now we know where years of above inflation Council Tax rises are going. Ryedale District Council is proposing to create an extra tier of senior managers. This new layer of management will be inserted between the Service Unit Managers and the Directors. It will increase the number of senior managers from 3 to 7 and increase the ‘wage bill’ by £1/4 million per year. (Plus an extra £75,000 in redundancy payments if necessary.)Remember the Council Tax website survey? I’m fairly certain there wasn’t a question ‘Would you be happy with a 71/2% above inflation increase in Council tax so as to fund a whole new level of senior managers at Ryedale House?’ I am certain what the response would have been. Yet if/when this happens that will be the amount of Ryedale Council Tax used to pay for it.

In the local elections did any of the politicians offer the people of Ryedale an increase in Council Tax to pay for more senior managers at Ryedale house? No they did not. They talked about keeping the Council tax down, value for money and efficiency. The Conservatives stated ‘Whatever happens to the structure of local government we will spend wisely – it is your money’. Is it too much to hope that the Tories now that they are in control at Ryedale District Council will deliver their promise? Most people are in favour of money being spent on those doing the job. This proposal does not fit that criterion. If the Tories put the proposed structure in place with a £1/4million price tag of our money will they spend wisely?

In 2003 the senior management team at Ryedale District Council was 4.2 (the Chief Finance Officer was 1 day/week). This has been reduced to 3 – about right in my opinion. There is no logic, reasoning, benefit or other justification for this to explode to 7. The average wages cost of the chief officers has increased from £66,000 per Chief Officer to £100,000 + over the last 4 years. This is bad enough without now more than doubling the number of senior managers. The strength of an organisation (or building) is in the lower levels – pyramids last much longer than steeples however ornate the design. I cannot see any benefit in the proposed structure change. I cannot see how it will benefit the people of Ryedale.

It is up to those people of Ryedale. Enough is enough. If people don’t want this massive increase in the cost of local bureaucracy they must say so. District Councillors must be made very aware that this is not where the people of Ryedale want the Council to spend their Council Tax.

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