County defends staff increases

BOSSES at Suffolk County Council have denied claims that staff numbers have been spiralled out of control.

They were reacting after figures from the opposition Liberal Democrats showed the number employed by the council had risen by more than 500 over the last year.

They revealed that the number of county council employees had increased from 5,800 to 6,300 over the last year.

Of that 500, 270 are new staff employed at Children’s Centres and fully-funded by the government.

However 230 represents an overall staff increase.

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Deputy leader Jane Storey said of that 230, 80 were employed by the trading department - which provides services for other organisations and authorities at no cost to the Suffolk Council Taxpayer.

And a further 50 were new social workers who had been taken on to improve the council’s care of vulnerable children and adults.

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She said: “That leaves 100 more staff, and in an organisation the size of the county council that is not a huge figure.”

Meanwhile it emerged that the council had hired a room at their next door neighbours to carry out interviews for a senior job at the authority.

The personnel appointments sub-committee is due to meet to appoint a new deputy chief fire officer next week - and has hired an executive box at Portman Road.

They will be renting the box even though there are several committee rooms and smaller meeting rooms in Endeavour House.

However the room was offered to the county as part of the deal which allows Ipswich Town stewards to use the council’s private car park on match days.

Mrs Storey said: “It is more private to carry out job interviews there. I questioned the cost of hiring a room because we have rooms in Endeavour House, but was happy that it this is being done as part of the deal over the car park.”

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said it was often felt it was better to interview potential employees away from Endeavour House because the rooms there did not offer much privacy.

She said: “There is a lot of glass there and people can see in which is a bit of a distraction - people don’t like that when they are being interviewed.”

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