Five Middlesbrough councillors have taken a 5% cut in their allowances.
Members of the newly-formed Association of Independent Middlesbrough Councillors (AIM) have taken the voluntary reduction after the idea was vetoed by other councillors.
North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier raised the issue at a full council meeting in May but the proposal failed to win support of members.
Now Cllr Junier and colleagues Cllr John McPartland (Middlehaven), Cllr Pervaz Khan (Middlehaven), Cllr Michael Hudson (Coulby Newham) and Cllr Derek Loughborough (North Ormesby and Brambles Farm) will receive about £300 a year less.
All councillors receive a basic allowance of £6,130 per year while those with special responsibilities are paid more.
Cllr Junier said: “We are living in very difficult times. We are under no illusion that 5% will make a big difference but if it saves one job that one person will be forever grateful.”
At the time Cllr Junier proposed the reduction, Mayor Ray Mallon said the suggestion was “narrow-minded” and insisted the cut would not “be a pin prick” in relation to the savings required.
AIM was formed after Cllrs Junier, McPartland, Sajaad Khan, Pervaz Khan and Loughborough were deselected by the Labour party.
The five appealed against the decisions but only Cllr Loughborough was successful.
He then joined Cllrs Junier, McPartland and P Khan in setting up AIM after all resigned from the Labour party.
Cllr Hudson, who was previously an independent, joined the association shortly afterwards.
AIM is the second largest political group in Middlesbrough after Labour.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 07 July 2014
A union has dubbed a Teesside council’s decision to give one of the highest paid senior officers up to £18,000 more as “morally indefensible”.
And a councillor has said it is “alarming” a “so-called cash-strapped council” has given the nod to increase the pay of a senior manager.
But Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon called the comments “mischievous in the extreme”.
As reported, Middlesbrough Council has announced a shake-up of its senior management structure which includes reducing the number of senior managers from 22 to 12 over the past four years cutting almost £1m in costs and the addition of three extra executive members which will cost nearly £37,000 in allowances.
As part of the reshuffle, director of transformation Tony Parkinson is to become executive director of commercial and corporate services – a move which boosts his annual salary from £95,000 to between £102,681-£113,484.
Janet Greig, Unison regional organiser, said: “When this man was awarded £95,000 to be director of transformation we said it was morally indefensible when they were asking their staff to accept cuts in terms and conditions.
“Now to come along and raise it by 20% – if he gets the top of his grade – it’s morally indefensible. At the same time is the cost of these extra executives instead of employing a couple of managers who would have the skills necessary to take on that role.
“Members have a 1% increase in their salary so this is an absolute disgrace. They are shouting that they don’t have any money and Middlesbrough is hit the hardest with the national cuts but at the same time they can find this additional revenue.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon hit back saying: “The comments from Janet Greig are clearly disingenuous and are mischievous in the extreme. She is well aware that this is not a pay rise – this is a new role and the salary reflects the particular position and the duties and responsibilities that go with it.”
> Crafty ! Dont give someone a massive pay rise, simply create a new job title for them at a massively increased pay.
Coulby Newham ward councillor Michael Hudson said: “It’s alarming to learn that Tony Parkinson has been awarded an £18,000 pay rise when the so-called cash-strapped council is in financial difficulty and especially when services are being reduced.”
Mr Mallon has defended the shake-up saying the increase to nine executive councillors, each receiving an allowance of just over £12,000 is “as cost-effective, as to employ two officers, at that level would cost at least £90,000”.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette – 14 May 2014
> There’s still plenty of money out there if you know where to look for it…
A senior Middlesbrough Council officer is to receive a pay rise of up to £18,000 as part of a management shake-up.
Director of Transformation Tony Parkinson is to become executive director of commercial and corporate services.
It is a move which boosts his annual salary from £95,000 to between £102,681 and £113,484.
Mr Parkinson took up the controversial ‘director of transformation‘ position overseeing council cuts in June last year.
> Director of Transformation – isn’t that nice ? You’ve not been sacked, you’ve been transformed into an unemployed person. Your local library has not been closed, its been transformed into an empty building.
And now he’s successfully transforming his bank balance.
That role will now be scrapped and Mr Parkinson’s previous duties will “form the substantive element” of his new job, it has been confirmed.
The change is part of a major overhaul of the council’s senior management structure which has been announced by Mayor Ray Mallon.
The shake-up will also lead to three more councillors receiving special allowances of more than £12,000 by increasing the number of “executive” members from six to nine.
Mr Mallon defended the changes, saying they would create a “leaner and smarter organisation”.
“The council has a workforce of over 4,000 people, and I have always regarded councillors as part of that workforce,” he said.
“We have made huge savings within the management structure over the last two to three years, but I have felt in recent months that we are exposing the organisation to increased risk as a result.
“That is the reason that I have decided that the management of the council should be restructured, as well as strengthening the Executive.”
The three extra Executive members will cost nearly £37,000 in allowances.
But Mr Mallon said the changes were needed due to a significant fall in the number of senior managers, and the need to increase focus on education and caring for vulnerable children.
“An increase to nine Executive councillors, each receiving an allowance of just over £12,000, is as cost-effective, as to employ two officers at that level would cost at least £90,000,” said Mr Mallon.
The changes come as the number of senior managers fell from 22 to 12 in the past four years – cutting almost £1m in staff costs.
It also comes as the authority tackles huge ongoing budget tightening which has seen numerous services cut back or axed and hundreds of jobs gone.
> But luckily they’ve still got all those executives on increased money. Who needs actual workers anyway ?
The new senior management structure follows the appointment of Mike Robinson as chief executive – on a salary of £140,000 – and consists of three executive directors and nine assistant directors.
Mr Parkinson will be joined by Kevin Parkes, executive director of economic development and communities, and an executive director of wellbeing, care and learning, a role yet to be filled.
Under the councillor reshuffle, three new roles will be created.
:: Cllr Jean Sharrocks (Brookfield, Labour) will be responsible for children’s social care;
:: Cllr Brenda Thompson (Nunthorpe, Independent) will oversee supporting communities;
:: New portfolios of education/skills and commercial assets/income will be taken on by Cllrs Jan Brunton (Coulby Newham, Labour) and Steve Bloundele (Linthorpe, Labour) respectively.
:: Cllrs Tracy Harvey (Gresham, Labour) and Jean Sharrocks (Brookfield, Labour) have moved up to become executive members responsible for environment and children’s social care respectively – each receiving double their previous allowances.
Executive members receive an allowance of £12,260 – while assistant executives get £6,130.
Cllrs Brunton and Bloundele have moved into the Executive while Cllr Nicky Walker – who was Executive member for environment – has taken on Cllr Brunton’s former role as chairwoman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette 08 May 2014
A benefits study in two Middlesbrough suburbs has revealed almost £100,000 of entitlements going unclaimed.
The project could now be rolled out across the town, ranked eighth across the country in the index of multiple deprivation, following the results of the ‘It’s your right to claim’ campaign.
Money experts spent a week in Coulby Newham and Hemlington in March when they spoke to 1,000 people which flagged up 52 potential new claims for help.
Along with a number of follow-up calls made to Middlesbrough Citizen Advice Bureau it is estimated that £93,200 in unclaimed benefits has been identified to assist these residents.
Councillor Tracy Harvey, Middlebrough Council’s executive lead for welfare reform, said: “It may well be that we have only scratched the service and we will now need to look at rolling this project out across Middlesbrough.
“This campaign is about removing any stigma attached to welfare and letting people know what their circumstances entitle them to.
“The amount of money we have found going unclaimed in such a short space of time is a real eye-opener and shows this is an important issue that we need to tackle.”
Latest statistics show 24 per cent of householders in the town claim disability benefit and 7.5 per cent are in receipt of Jobseekers’ Allowance.
John Daniels, Manager of Middlesbrough Citizen’s Advice Bureau, said: “Many people in Middlesbrough are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“At a time when household expenses like gas and electricity seem to be constantly rising, it is important that local people receive all the income to which they are entitled. Campaigns like this are a useful way of ensuring that happens.”
> So that’s £93,200 in unclaimed benefits in just two areas of one town. Now extend this across the North East. Then across the rest of the UK…
Source – Northern Echo 02 May 2014