Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pay And Dismay

Our beloved Tory council's General Purposes Committee met last night. Sounds dull, doesn't it?

But there are two points worth noting. Firstly it was the inaugural outing for the committee's new chairman, Councillor/Doctor Simon Moores. Some cynics might argue that his elevation was a palm-off for not rocking the boat over his leader and deputy leader's petition juggling antics which recently earnt them a ticking off from the Standards Committee. Not to mention his leader's propensity for calling the Mayor of Margate a 'fucking tosser'. No matter. Apparently the Doc done good, according to Labour councillor Mike Harrison, who attended last night's jamboree.

Now to the slightly less dull bit. The committee was in fairly secretive session, it seems, to discuss pay and salaries. Dr Moores has a full (-ish) account on his Thanet Life blog here. It's worth quoting some of it:

Following changes to the council’s senior staffing structure, a move to ensure the council continues to provide excellent value for money for its residents, the committee agreed to a number of changes to the basic salary scales of the Corporate Management Team and to the proposed new pay awards for all staff at the council. This saw an agreement to a pay award of 0% for the Corporate Management Team, 1.75% for senior staff and 2% for all other staff.

Hmmm. Sounds like the Corporate Management Team have done the decent thing and awarded themselves a pay freeze, eh? Not quite. What the good doctor has glossed over here is the part where 'the committee agreed to a number of changes to the basic salary scales of the Corporate Management Team'.

Perhaps he should have said 'after which they were awarded 0%'. Because my man with the Tesco bag full of frilly pink knickers informs me that, following the restructuring of the salary scales, many of the grand fromages are actually in line for a pay rise of around £25K. Of course, this has all been justified by the 'streamlining' of the senior team, 'fastest improving authority in the UK', blah blah blah. Still sounds like snouts in troughs to me, though. No wonder Thanet Council refused to answer the TaxPayers' Alliance's FOI request for their Town Hall Rich List 2009, which was published this week!


ascu75 aka Don said...

which part of 0% do they not understand how can we find out who is paid what and how much their salaries are going to rise this year I am getting fed up with secrecy someone must have the answers

ascu75 aka Don said...

the figure of 30,000 was bandied about for legal costs of the last enquiry and now 10,000 anyway we can get a proper costing on this as I feel it should be paid by those concerned with bringing this good Isle into disrepute cos how I look at it however much it cost if the council is picking up the tab its like another pay rise for those who should be paying it

DrMoores said...

It is difficult for me to pass comment on this other than deliver the facts as they were presented to the committee. There is no suggestion of secrecy, simply that information concerning individuals renumeration has to be released properly and in any event you will find the details that may interest readers most in the council's annual accounts.

The detail I belive we need to concentrate on most is that the re-structuring of the management will lead to a calculated salaries saving of £200,000 this year alone. Yes there will be pay rises but these have been taken into account and they remain at the median level of compensation, given a Hay Executive study of equivalent roles throughout the South-east.

The expresssion, "Between a rock and a hard place springs to mind." Over the last decade, we have seen public sector salaries grow quite remarkably and to a comparative level with the private sector. Thanet, because of its geographical position and unique challenges will always struggle to attract the best candidates and keep them when other authorities try to poach them, as they frequently do.

Political differences aside, as reflected last evening, I would hope that all sides would expect me to be as sensible and pragmatic over the sitiation as circumstances and very limited room for manoever would allow. Of course I would say that but difficult decisions often have to be made where the broader public interest has to be considered and I believe that in the circumstances after considerable and often passionate debate the right decision was made.

Eastcliff Richard said...

The council used to have a chief exec, two deputies and something like 12 'heads of service'.

This has now been 'streamlined' to a 'board' consisting of a chief, deputy and five execs.

So yes, they have saved a fair old bit, but there's now more cake for the top team to have a share of too.

All they then had to do was call in Hays, the employment consultants, to compare their fancy new grades with the market rate et voila! Bentleys all round!

Eastcliff Richard said...

Oops! Sorry, didn't see you there Doc!

Cllr. Mike Harrison said...

Since last nights meeting some further information has come my way.
Up until last August/September Planning Officers and I think Environmental Officers were paid a 'Retention Premium' on top of their salaries to ensure that they were being paid at the equivalent rate to the private sector. This was discontinued as the employment market no longer justified these payments.
The argeument being used last night was that the employment market justified the higher salaries that had been agreed.
So which is it ?
higher rates to recruit and retain higher level staff or standard local government salaries because the market is at that level.

Jean said...

If the salary structure really is designed to attract and maintain the top 'talent' why have we ended up with a bunch of duffers running the show?

Anonymous said...

I would not mind paying these people the going rate if they were doing a good job but they patently are not. They excuse their deficiencies by blaming everything else - the area, their staff, the locals, anything but their own miserable failings. They are not worth two brass farthings in my opinion.

Sack the lot of them and get some people in from the commercial sector who have been tested by the cut and thrust of business I say. Not these timeserving, selfserving petty bureaucrats. There must be plenty of good people out there in the private sector who have been made redundant recently.

For example Fred Goodwin is available I hear.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the Met security guy has to fall on his sword for the briefest slips.

If he was on Thanet council and had sold the secrets to the Taliban he would probably be putting in for and getting a pay rise.

I agree with Jean, please any other local authority feel free to poach our ,"Talent" take as much as you want.

Anonymous said...

I f***ing told OBE to trust me about that Doc and he aint arf cum up wiv the goods. Why shuld we f***ing tell any snoopy FOI person wot extra dosh Richard, John, Donna, Sue, Brendan, Mark an Miles wos gonna get in their fat brown envelopes this munf.

I sed to OBE, leave it to my new mate Si and by the time he’s put some Labour spin and waffle on the extra bonce, ittle look as if they ain’t got nuffink extra. 0% was bleeding marvelusly misleeding.

We aint gunna woori abart wot happens when that barstard ECR finds out wot the extra bung is wurf this year to my mates who run the gaff for me. Gotta scratch their backs, no watimeen?

No wun out theyre will bovver to find out wot they got last year and wot they’ll get this and tern it into a bleedin percentage fing. Old news by then and Gazunder will report the crap from ol Moores in its normal way.

Better find anuvver Comitee for my mate, Moores. Planning needs a better 'f****** t****r' than Gregs.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Dr Moores speaks about the Committee he was asked to lead prior to it's first meeting.

I thought the meeting would elect it's own Chairperson; and that that person, would then Chair the meeting; not 'Lead' it.

I slip of the English perhaps, or a more likely self promotion.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. They're all at it. They've all got their noses in the tough and they dare not criticise any of the others because their own greed and corruption may come to light. It's a conspiracy of silence. I say we put up honesty candidates for the next election. These candidates will insist that all payments are listed clearly so that the public can see who has been paid what and for what. This will apply top all elected members AND civic servants.

Anonymous said...

Nobody should be getting a pay rise in the current climate. Nobody.

DrMoores said...

As the evidence from this comment thread illustrates only too well, the English language is remarkably rich. To lead a committee or chair a committee is really a matter of semantics and I suppose one follows neatly from the other, although the outcome remains the same!

Where 'self promotion' comes into it I'm not clear and is quite irrelevant to the outcome of the meeting. In this case, I met with everyone involved asked preliminary questions and offered my own summary of the salient detail, as understood it to the members of the committee in order to help focus our discussion and direct questions to the officers present!

Once again, I encourage people to look at the facts; i.e. increased efficiency has raised TDC from around 300th to 43rd place among local councils. Services are improving and have improved and this is confirmed by the audit commission. The problem is we all want more but the resources don't exist to deliver what we would wish for in a perfect world.

Eastcliff Richard said...

Sorry Doc, but TDC is nowhere near '43rd place among local councils'.

Either you are being disingenuous, or, to be slightly more generous, political. Or you aren't in possession of the facts. Or you've believed the hogwash your officers are spouting (which I somehow doubt as you are far too astute to be taken in by that!)

TDC is in fact the 43rd most improved council. According to the Audit Commission that makes our council 'fair' in the national rankings, one up from 'weak' and two down from excellent'. 43rd in the UK? Nah.

Now that we've got that out of the way, just how exactly did we get to the stage where we have to pay the Chief Executive almost as much as the Prime Minister? The last time the public were allowed to look, which was back in 2007, he was on something like £130,000 a year. £130,000 a year! With modest inflation rises and presumably a Brucie bonus from this restructuring, that's probably more than £150K by now!

I've been living in Ramsgate for almost four years now, and things haven't got better. They haven't improved. They've got worse. Should these people really be rewarded for failure? Or is it the case that the public sector gravy train is self-perpetuating, much like the bankers' gravy train used to be?

If so, surely it's time for a radical shake-up!

Anonymous said...

A payrise at this time is unacceptable, and also maybe it is time revisit the cost of the other "benefits" the cost of free parking, yet others pay, pensions etc. Does the tax payer reaily get good value for local services.Most of the people I speak to, think they only look after themselves!!!

Anonymous said...

I think what this thread demonstrates is not that," The English Language is remarkably rich" Dr Moores putdown, but that there is a lot of anger and disatisfaction with the way local politics are transacted here.

A small group buffoons cynically milk the public purse and sort out any of their long standing associates with planning applications . This has been the way things get done here for too long and "Dr" Moores response shows that nothing is going to change any time in the future .

I agree with the previous posting that independent candidates would be a major step forward

Anonymous said...

I'm sure all the loyal staff TDC have just laid off in the Council Tax department will be overjoyed that their surviving colleagues will get a 2% pay rise.

Anonymous said...

I love all this "43rd in the country" spin. It is pretty easy to be one of the fastest improvers when you are bloody awful to start with. As someone else has said, TDC is still classed as "fair" which is not good enough for the council tax we all have to pay.

Anonymous said...

All the other local councils replied to the Freedom of Information Act regarding salaries of senior staff. What exactly have TDC got to hide ?

DrMoores said...

You are quite right ECR, "Most improved" and I stand corrected for my slip. None the less this does reinforce my point in terms of significant improvement and value for money where TDC is doing well in contrast with others.

I'm afraid you are wrong, almost by an order of magnitude in regard to the Chief Executive's salary and the issue that faced us yesterday in committee involved bringing salaries up to an equivalent range with other Kent and SE councils but at the base level to the median, bearing in mind the recession.

A great many people will share your opinion that the public sector, like the banking sector needs an urgent reality check but that will have to come from a Government which opened the Pandora's Box in the first place.

Until that time comes, you have to pay the going rate for the job because a responsibility exists to the public to ensure that we have the best qualified people in place to deliver their public services.

Compensation is now also performance based and so like the private sector, one would hope that this will encourage further improvement from 'Fair' to 'Good'.

Finally, we need to remember that streamlining the roles involves greater responsibilities and a coincidental workload. For this people would rightly expect to be compensated.

Anonymous said...

Why should we pay them more when they cant even manage basic management like checking the terms of ownership of assets before they sell them or statutory planning letters being sent out properly - the head of regeneration certainly doesnt need a rise!
The jobs market is much reduced plenty of good lawyers and accountants made redundant who would take their places for the money and perks they are on and do a much better job - lets face it they cant do anything any worse!
love the 5.35 contribution - so true.
I am very disappointed that Dr Moores has just become Sandy's yes man i expected better of him.
It is so depressing that no-one in the Conservatives will stand up and be counted we the people of thanet DESERVE BETTER we dont deserve a swearing yob! Please offer some opposition to bullying you are all just rolling over!

DrMoores said...

One more point if I may, in response to several comments that allege criminal behaviour, misappropriation of public funds, backhanders, bribes and more.

If you have any material evidence to support such serious allegations then deliver it to the police; i.e. in crude terms, put up or shut-up.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i have just read the part about performance rated pay - does the Northdown house fiasco and the Manston road fiasco mean that heads will roll and no bonuses - i dont think so - it is all such basic stuff that needs management that is clearly not there!

Anonymous said...

Dr Moores said: "Until that time comes, you have to pay the going rate for the job because a responsibility exists to the public to ensure that we have the best qualified people in place to deliver their public services."

The problem is Dr Moores is that we don't have the best qualified people in place, especially planning, a department that seems to have its nose in the trough more than most! We have second raters who do not by and large have an understanding of the needs of the area and seem to make things up as they go along.

Anonymous said...

phew ECR you have really got us going on this one - maybe you should apply for the job of chief exec - sit above Cecil Square lording to one and all - commandering the mayor's car and chauffeur to take you for your lunchtime snifter! maybe not you might make Sandy jealous and we dont like him when he is angry do we?
although Hawley Square would make a good spectator area for a fight - the crowds could gather around the green to cheer you on. Iris would be ready to mop your brow!

Anonymous said...

" crude terms, put up or shut-up."

Quite right Doc, but don't ypu usually leave crudity to your leader? Methinks that your cage has been rattled.

Anonymous said...

There is a huge difference in being Chairperson, or leader 'Dr' Moores.

A Chairperson effectively referees a meeting. A leader, by virtue of the name, leads the meeting!

It is not a matter of sematics as you put it, it is a question of someone over inflating their importance and position! You!!

As always 'Dr' Moores, you have to be the font of all knowledge. But be warned, the acolyte might get burnt!

Anonymous said...

What are you on about, Dr Moores in your 10.04 posting? I haven't read any comment that implies any matter that needs to be brought to the attention of the police. What there does appear to be is speculation, and quite rightly, as to the real increase in senior officers pay that you have described as 0%. Who is being economical with the truth? The percentage increase for example, of The Chief Executive is quite simple. What was his salary in 2008/9 and what is his remuneration in 2009/10? Therefore what has been the increase in his pay packet? A simple question that is deserving of a simple answer.Do you really expect us to believe that it is 0%?

Anonymous said...

Dodgy deals done behind closed doors are very hard to prove, and unless you have a whistleblower prepared to testify then along police investigation might unearth something.
Alternatively there is your own local press,

The funding of a trip to China for senior council officials by the developers company.

Joining the council for the sole purpose of getting your own awful building through the planning committee in Birchington your area Doc.

Verbally abusing a retiring Mayor and threatening physical violence at a public function by a council leader

Disrupting a peaceful attempt to organise a petition, by the council leader and deputy somewhat the worse for drink

Removing a head of planning who proved to be resistant to the requests of some local developers and replacing him with a more accommodating figure.

Illegal probably not, but falling well below the standards that the voters and council tax payers of Thanet deserve

Anonymous said...

Q. When is a large payrise, a 0% payrise?
A. When its a TDC payrise.

Anonymous said...

My goodness, you can say what you like about our council, but they have gone to all the trouble of organising a beer festival in the winter gardens, this weekend!
I'll certainly be going along and enjoying a few beers at this, one of many, many functions, that our council lay on to promote the area.

Cheers TDC and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I love the 'I know better than you' attitude of Cllr. Moores until someone takes issue with him then he gets all humble, well, not really.

A Chair of a committee never leads but is there to control the meeting, to prevent one person hogging the limelight,to keep things on schedule etc. Just like the Chair of Planning does!!

If you are at the bottom in terms of standards of performance as a council then the slightest improvement can rocket you up the list.

It's interesting how 'economical with the truth' this whole improvement business has been handled. There's an Independent, ex-Labour, (now Tory, perhaps?), saying on Cllr. Moores blog how proud he is 'to be a member of such a wonderful council'.

Let's face facts on local government staff who apparently need to have comparable salaries to what they might get in industry/business.

Having worked in a number of local councils, most of them wouldn't last five minutes in the real world. This lot getting hefty pay rises? It's a disgrace.

Reduced services for us. Public toilets being closed. Assets being sold off. I could go on but it's all too depressing to think about.

Anonymous said...

Nice 23k rise at 0%. Looks like TDC is arranging a nice safe re-location of the Ramsgate VIC?

I wonder how much public money will be spent on that to safeguard a local business?

You have to laugh at TDC when they state in the papers that the local people should help get the money together to save the museums as not a red cent will be spent from TDC's coffers yet million's have been spent on the Turnip centre and the Pleasurama site.

Th point is that TDC is an abject disgrace from top to bottom - and its run more akin to the former communist era.

Martin said...

Yes impossible to prove the dodgy deals but they are so obvious. Wonder what it took to get that building in Birchington through and the guy is now vice chair of planning! We have a Leader who obviously sets the example for behaviour in Thanet given the rise in anti social behaviour and crime figures and a deputy who is slightly more than economical with the truth. Others in the cabinet have to share their one collective brain cell. Officers support this band of dickensian villains and we pay through the teeth for the results of their incompetence.

Jean said...

Dr Moores, you do disappoint me. I thought you were someone I might come to respect but that 'slip' about 43rd place just puts you back with your troughing chums.

The facts before us, which you are so keen to consider, are that TDC was performing poorly, and it has improved a bit. That doesn't justify salaries equal to other SE councils that are run well now does it?

Anonymous said...

Strange how this posting has attracted 36 comments, yet on 'Cllr Biggles' blog there has been none on the subject.

Anonymous said...

the answer to the last comment is that he has probably used comment moderation - the last time i wrote some criticism on his blog he didnt print it and suggested i got the info under the FOI rules it was only asking him why he had fallen under Sandy's payroll. What none of this actually points out ECR is that the Conservatives are also all paying themselves more - instead of the cabinet allowances only there are payments now to all the conservative councillors who are assisting the cabinet members who are unable to get the measure of their brief and having to have help from the rest of the crew - or a way of Sandy buying power. As another blogger says it is more like communism not Conservatism. They all deserve each other but we the people and taxpayers deserve better!

Eastcliff Richard said...

This may or may not be the last word on the subject, but I'll have a go anyway!

I really don't like the Thanet Tories (does it show?). There again I haven't experienced Labour in power round here, although by all accounts things weren't much different with them in charge. You only have to look at the blight and dereliction of 40 years to know that something's gone horribly wrong, no matter what the colour of the flag on Cecil Square at the time.

All I would say about Cllr Moores is that he is obviously an ambitious politician, and we all know ambitious politicians are prone to hyping things up to put themselves in a favourable light. That said, at least he's visible and seems prepared to dive in with the cut and thrust. I personally do not lump him in with the duffers here in Thanet, he's just, unfortunately, got in with the wrong crowd. Yes, he's a politician, yes he may come across sometimes as a pompous arse, yes he appears to have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy attempting to unmask yours truly, but when all is said and done I believe he genuinely has the wellbeing of Thanet at heart. After his own political ambitions that is.

Just think of all the faceless, dimwitted councillors round here you never get to hear about. There's even one who draws his stipend from Panama! At least the Doc lives in Westgate. And you can't say he doesn't fight his corner!

Anonymous said...

Any council that can trumpet Thanet Gateway as a success is capable of spouting any old bollocks.

Anonymous said...

ECR keep that anynominity for as long as you can - others havent managed to and have been threatened etc. Keep up the good work you are very generous with your detractors

Anonymous said...

If you took the trouble to look on Thanet Strife Bertie says quite clearly he's off on his holidays hence the lack of anything new for a week.

Do keep up!!

Anonymous said...

How to keep your backbenchers loyal so they don't join the plotters who are hoping for a palace coup?

Offer them a supporting role to each cabinet member so when/if they start getting critical, you can say, 'Hang about a bit, don't you want the extra dosh I've been slipping you while Labour/Independents get nowt extra'.

It worked in Soviet Russia with holidays on the Black Sea for the faithful and the gulags for the others.

Anonymous said...

I don't quite get where democracy fits into all of this. The public don't want the bigwigs to be paid as much as they are being paid. They don't want them to have a pay rise for being complete failures. It is the Councillors' job to reflect these wishes. Why are our pathetic Councillors rubber-stamping these gross salaries against the wishes of the electorate? It is time the wishes of the people were listened to or civil unrest will ensue.

Anonymous said...

A contributor suggested that some TDC folk should follow the example of Mr Quick, who forget to keep his secrets zipped in, and quit.

Mr Quick must already have been smarting after the Cabinet Security chief also got into a quit situation

in recent weeks

Our hero's illustrious career began, inevitably, under the noses of Kent Police. 1976 to 1982 Deal Barracks gym.

In 1982, you may recall the Falklands War year, the Army Physical Training Corps asked MI5 if all was well on the security front vis a vis courses in "Close Quarter Battle" being run for paying trainees at Deal Barracks gym of a weekend.

Undoubtedly if MI5 investigated then they raised inquiries with Kent Special Branch. That is to say Kent Police whose wages you stump up for through taxation.

Our hero, allegedly, went on to access HMS Sultan, HMS Mercury, RAF Leeming, RAF Alconbury, and

and allegedly to provide tactical firearms training to paying members of the police and similar allegedly gullible people.

What has this got to do with Thanet, its council and paying its planning officers over the rate to secure the creme.

A Thanet Gun Range.

Upon being asked about this history of secure access, to MOD sites that seemed to flow from Kent Police nil action decisions early in the lad's career, Chief constable Fuller said

"I have the very lad to answer about this lad's history and funny goings on at a Thanet range .. Chief Supt Hogben area commander"

So after a few weeks Mr Hogben said

"My answer is I don't wanna answer"

I hear that Billy Hayton has been appointed Kent Police Authority spokesman on this and all related matters such as his alleged High Court evidence in 1998.

Squeak up Billy Hayton Mouse.

Or will you do a Bob Quick and resign ?

Anonymous said...

How to kill off a strand, Annoying Bloke! The beggars are all on £100,000 plus now and this is a 0% payrise?

Anonymous said...

What we need in Thanet is a Chashiers de Doliances. Either that or a guillotine!

West Cliff GB said...

Let's leave aside for now the comparitive minions of TDC and ask a new question of one of those who wish to represent us in Parliament.

If LAURA SANDYS, as expected, becomes the new Member for Thanet South in 2010, which if any expenses is she planning to submit?

An answer here could win her votes.

Or lose her support.

I'm sure she'd be delighted to make a declaration here and stick to it.

Could be the first declaration.

Who needs Peter Snow?

So Laura, do tell.

Anonymous said...

So when will Dr ( NON MEDICAL) Ladybird declare his expenses!!

West Cliff GB said...

I believe the Doc's expenses are in the public-domain. Hefty, as I remember.

I'm more interested in what's coming next. Hence, my interest in what Laura is planning to claim under current 'rules'..

My place of work is London, more often than not. I leave early and come home late to my constituents (that'll be the family)

I have a 'surgery' with them every morning and evening, throughout the day and at weekends. I am always contactable via Blackberry for those all-important constituency issues - forgotten lunch packs, school-trip fees etc.

My company, based in Mayfair, are not keen on my claiming for expenses other than those essential to my role within the firm, nor am I allowed to bring my company into disrepute.

As you were...

Anonymous said...

Jesus, Westcliff, you're a boring and self appreciating soul, aren't you!