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?



  1. I can't imagine the public would be any too impressed with "Diversity co-ordinator £85,000" or "Climate change directive facilitator £97,000" as advertised recently in the Grauniad.

    The poor lambs are bricking it that the public might just ask what the hell is it they do that demands such a salary with benefits.

  2. NO idea what they do QM. But then, I don't know what the Director of Housing does on a salary of over £100,000. After all the council sold all the bloody houses off. She must spend a lot of time painting her nails and moving the furniture around in her office I suspect.

    £97,000 is far too much money for a job, never mind an non job.

    As I say, time we cleared the trough swillers out, and, if they can get more money in the private sector, which is what they will tell us, they can sod of and get more money... Bye bye.

    I just wish a few of them had some manners when a member of the public speaks to them. They'll soon have to find some in the private sector.l

  3. Strangely enough Tris I too was interested in this. Anna Raccoon had a good post about English councils.

  4. I for one would be very interested to know what Mr Mike Galloway OBE, Dundee’s Director of Transport and Planning gets. Apart of course from his gong from the British Empire in the new year honours 2008 for services to planning and conservation. I guess that is what Gordon Brown meant when he said Dundee was in a great state, have a gong Mr G. I think if they are going to get an award for doing their job we ought to know how much the city is paying them to do it as well.

  5. Munguin

    You work for someone(presumably) would you want everybody knowing what you earn.
    an individuals earnings is a private matter between themselves and their employers and the relevant tax authorities (from the scummy torys defense of Ashcroft evasions).

    Of course any employer could say they employ x amount earning from between 0 and whatever as a guide without giving any personal details..

    The Fact is with right wing Blogs such as yours
    whipping up hysteria over what council employees earn.

    An attack either verbal or physical on a council employee or their property is not just probable but a downright certainty.

  6. Mr MixedPickle: fair enough I would not want everyone to know what I earn. But by the same token I am not getting handed something from the British Empire by the Queen for doing it. Nor is my salary and my ability to do my job likely to affect the people of Dundee's built environment or their council tax bills. I am not a public employee am I. I would always expect my employer to know what my salary is, wouldn’t you?

    This is not a right wing blog. It just does not indulge in the same Photoshop nonsense and puerile garbage that yours does. The cost of public employees is a legitimate concern. If I am wrong in that I am sure that a number of commenters/readers on here will put me right. That will be part of the reason this blog gets so many comments and endeavours to answer them all, with what I hope, readers will agree is fair and unbalanced answers that would do justice to the republican sentiments behind the blogs existence.

    I note you make no mention of the hysteria or possible attacks on Royals or MPs the salaries and perks of both having been the subjects of post on this blog in the past. Are you as concerned for Sir Nicholas Winterton for example as you are for mike Galloway OBE?

  7. I beg your pardon but it should read "balanced" not "unblanced" in that previous comment.

  8. as far as I am aware there are six in the central belt at cooncil level earning over £,300.000 PA

  9. Munguin

    the royals etc do not live in the same areas as the Hoi polloi and consequently are unlikely to meet them.

    As for Sir Nicholas Winterton(up to last year just behaving in the normal Conservative MP fashion) their is a difference between expenses and salary(or as we say wages) paid to ordinary employees.

    Its amazing the amount of information on wages etc you can get without having to identify the actual individual.

    After all it is the process which is in need of
    investigation and mayhap reform..

    "puerile garbage"

    Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.
    William Shakespeare

  10. SR: I'll have a look, thanks

  11. Anon: High time it was stopped. If the First Minister gets around £130,000 for sunning Scotland, why would some person running a council be worth more than twice that?

    And to the old story, I could get more in private sector work..... the answer is "don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out"

    Our councils are spectacularly badly run, I bet most of them couldn't begin to get that kind of money in the private sector. And most private sector companies wouldn't touch someone who was raised through the ranks of the public sector.

  12. Munguin: I've no idea why these people in local government get these stupid Empire titles for doing a well paid job with a fabulous pension at the end of it.

    In my world it would cease immediately.

    Imagine being impressed by that kind of thing. Over the years governments, and before that monarchs, have sold these things in return for favours.

    I’m always deeply suspicious of officials who have any kind of title or award. What, I wonder, did they do to get it? The exception, I suppose, are the top civil servants who get theirs as a matter of course.

  13. Mr MixedPickle: I'm sorry about that comment, it was a bit harsh. I do enjoy your blog as you know from all the weeping I do over there. I just meant to say that I object to people like Mr Galloway getting a large salary (that we don't know how much) as well as a gong from the British Empire for simply doing their job.

  14. Niko: I am not naming and shaming anybody. I live in Dundee and am aware that Mike Galloway is the Director of Transport and Planning, that is public knowledge. I recently got a computer generated letter from the Transport Department that was headed Mike Galloway OBE. As a republican I am against any sort of title or honour never mind using it in an official capacity such as that. I always look people who have titles and gongs up to see who gave them it and what for. So that is how I know that Sir Nicholas Winterton got his knighthood in 2002 (one assumes from Tony Blair) and that Petula Clark got her CBE (from Tony Blair) in 1998, Cilla Black got her OBE in 1996 (from John Major) and Mike Galloway got his OBE in 2008, therefore he must have got it from Gordon Brown.

  15. It's a difficult question Niko. I know, or if I don't I can find out, exactly what the Prime Minister earns, I can even find out what the First Minister earns. Likewise, I can find out what each and every MP, MEP and MSP earns; I know what every council member earns, and every convenor.

    That is because I help to pay them. I have that right. We all do.

    Why would I not be able to see the income of top officials in the council or the health board?

    You see Niko, it is because we are not allowed to see this information that some of them are paid more than the Prime Minister.

    That's a nonsense, surely. The woman from Suffolk gets paid more than the PM, she "runs" Suffolk for heaven’s sake, and he "runs" the UK.

    Now I may dislike Mr Brown with a passion and disapprove of the very fact that there is a UK to run, but even I think that his is a bigger job than hers, running a county in England with a population of 700,000. If Brown deserves his £200,000, I’d set a fair salary for her at around £35,000.

    Then you say, Niko, that this blog is right wing? Well.... in this case the blog was supporting the original stance of the English Labour government headed up by your beloved Mr Brown. He said that the top people should have their salaries disclosed (although I’m sure as a good old working class Labour man he said wages). It is the fat cats who want to stop that:

    “Good Lord Bartholomew, we don’t want the riff raff knowing how much we take each year, do we? The peasants might get cross because we take all that and don’t bother to educate their second class kids, who by the way are sooo noisy, nor do we fix their awful roads in their dreadful ghettos, I mean schemes or whatever they are called. How’s Darien getting on at Winchester by the by? Must get rid of this dreadful Labour government what? Have you seen Sir Winterton recently?”

    You seem to be all for supporting the people at the top against your own government and against the people who pay for them to do diddly squat while taking home 8+ times the average wage.

    And you call me right wing????????????

  16. Niko: As for the matter of people taking honours for doing jobs that they got paid to do. (And yes, that includes my beloved Petula Clark and her idiotic CBE (my only comfort is that she admitted that she hasn’t clue where it is and the last time she saw her grandson was playing with it). It also includes the SNP’s “Sir” Sean Connery, that well known Scot from the Bahamas. I don’t approve, and I don’t see why we hand these out.

    One look at the mess of planning in Dundee would make any sane person question why the individual in charge of it got a salary never mind a gong to boot. Likewise, Mr Winterton got his knighthood for services to parliament? What kind of moron would believe that? All Mr Winterton has done for parliament that I can see is make it a laughing stock with his 19th century Rugby School superiority, bigotry and snobbery.

    So we should stop all this nonsense right away.