Council could agree radical pay shake-up

SENIOR officials in charge of running an Essex council could be made to prove their worth before being paid their full allowance under a radical new plan.

Annie Davidson

SENIOR officials in charge of running an Essex council could be made to prove their worth before being paid their full allowance under a radical new plan.

If approved, Colchester Borough Council could be the first in the country to set specific targets which members of the cabinet would have to achieve - or lose out financially.

The proposal was last night welcomed by the campaign group Taxpayers' Alliance, which urged officials to approve the idea, saying it would increase public confidence in local government.

You may also want to watch:

It has been out forward by Paul Smith, cabinet member for resource and business, who has also volunteered to be the first “guinea pig” under the new scheme.

He said: “It is something we looked at during the last review of councillors' allowances when we looked at ways of linking performance with the allowance a councillor gets.

Most Read

“When I was made part of the administration earlier this year I thought we had better have another look at it - people complain about what councillors do and we review the work that portfolio holders do once a year.

“Members of the public, through 'have your say', could say whether they thought I had done good or bad and see that have a tangible impact on what I got in the way of allowances.”

Under Mr Smith's proposal, which will be discussed by the overview and scrutiny panel tomorrow , £100 per month would be held back from a cabinet member's allowance of £10,800.

After an annual review, they would be given a certain percentage of the money in a lump sum depending on whether they had achieved their targets.

Outstanding or exceeding objectives would mean all the money being awarded, while achieving would mean 40% of it and falling below would mean the cabinet member not being given any.

Mr Smith, a Liberal Democrat representing St John's, said he did not envisage the scheme being extended to individual councillors because the public judged them at each election.

He added that the targets set would have to be tangible and realistic.

“They might say (to me) we don't expect council tax to rise by more than 4% or whatever - that is something tangible which I can be judged against at the end of the year,” he said.

Council leader Anne Turrell said yesterday that if the overview and scrutiny panel approved the proposal it would then come before the cabinet for a final decision.

She said: “It is just a test at the moment to see what the feeling is and how we could do it and what the options are. It could be very difficult to do, so we need to get other councillors' views.”

Mark Wallace, campaign director at the Taxpayers' Alliance, last night said that he had never heard of another council taking on such a scheme.

“I think it is a very interesting idea which could offer taxpayers a lot of benefit,” he said. “We need to make sure that the targets aren't set too low but I think anything that encourages good performance and provides an incentive is better than just handing over cash no questions asked.

“I would encourage the council to adopt the proposal. I think the public often think there is one rule for politicians in the public sector and another rule in the real world - where if you do a good job you get rewarded and if you don't you definitely don't get rewarded and you could lose your job.

“The current system has serious flaws so innovative new ideas like this are always welcome.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter