Friday, 19 February 2010
I was just saying the other day that, now that we have started (but not yet finished) with the House of Commons, and made a very small start on the Lords and the BBC, trying to clean away all the greed and the self serving not to mention the out and out theft of our money, we might like to make some sort of a start on local government.
I suspect that all over Scotland the councils are just dripping with duplicity and inefficiency. I bet we could save hundreds of millions of pounds and make the whole business of local government much more efficient, and centred on the council tax payer instead of officials or elected members.
So it was with some amazement that I noticed this article in the Daily Telegraph. It relates to England and Wales, but my money’s on it being just as relevant in Scotland.
The fact of the matter is that despite the London government ordering the Welsh and English local authorities to publish details of salaries of their top officers, the councils are refusing to disclose the information. They claim that the disclosures would leave their staff vulnerable to reprisals and that officers would be subjected to personalised attacks and mischief making. They have convinced the London ministers that they should only report the very top people... ones earning over £150,000 a year!!!!!
So instead of tens of thousands of workers’ salaries being published, only 114 staff, most chief executives, will have to disclose their pay.
Councils have been criticised for granting pay rises to officials at a time when householders face increasing council tax bills and, in many cases, poor quality services whilst, under Labour, bills for a typical band D property in England and Wales have more than doubled.
As I said, I’m betting the same situation pertains here. Fortunately in Scotland we have had a tax freeze since the current government came to power.
I’m not going to knock all council workers. Most of the ones at or near the bottom try hard to do a good job, hidebound by rules and regulations and unbelievable red tape, and for only moderate salaries. But as soon as anything goes wrong, they are powerless to do anything. There is nothing to do but to contact higher ranking officials. Isn't email wonderful. I have had nightmare communications with management level employees who seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew, that they are employed by us to serve us.
Their sharp, rude, superior tones would get them the sack, were they directed at customers in the private sector.
I can’t find details on line of salaries in Scotland but last year it was revealed that in England Andrea Hill, CE of Suffolk, received £218,000, John Foster, Islington, got £210,000 and thousands of others below the most senior level are on massive salaries. Scales are likely to be much the same in Scotland. With salaries like that and index linked pensions that are breaking the country and that the rest of us could only dream about, it is high time our government did the same thing with Scottish authorities.... and had a bit more backbone than the London lot and insisted on disclosure.
They work for us. The question is, are they entitled to any more privacy than MSPs or councillors, and if so, why?