More anger over wages of spin

SUFFOLK: Moves to cut �500,000 from the county’s communication budget were today branded appalling by the opposition.

Liberal Democrat leader Kathy Pollard was angered as confusion surrounded the scope of the costly new spin doctor Jill Rawlins.

The county’s chief executive Andrea Hill used The Evening Star earlier this week to announce that Mrs Rawlins would be paid between �400 and �700 a day for six months to cut �500,000 from the communications and marketing budget.

But it was not clear what this money would be cut from.

According to the county’s budget book, the council has a communications and marketing budget of �838,000 – meaning it would be facing a cut of almost two thirds.

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However a spokeswoman for the county – who is part of the threatened team – understood that the scope would be wider, including individual departments’ communications and marketing budgets.

Former chief spin doctor Francis Thomas told fellow professionals he controlled a communications budget of �3.5million.

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The confusion was slammed by Mrs Pollard who said it was an appalling way to treat professional staff at the county.

She said: “Whatever you think of the work done in that department, this confusion is not good at all.

“And for the council to tell the media about �500,000 of cuts to communications and marketing before they have explained what they are talking about to staff who will be affected is appalling.

“At the moment the whole thing seems very muddy.”

As revealed in the Star yesterday, if Mrs Rawlins were to earn the total possible daily rate of �700, the full year salary package with on-costs would be a massive �236,000 a year – more than even Mrs Hill’s bumper annual pay cheque.

One of Suffolk’s new Tory MPs today added his voice to the chorus of disapproval.

Dr Dan Poulter, who represents Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said the pay was “absolutely crazy” and described the situation at “simply bizarre”.

He broke ranks with his fellow Conservatives who have been reluctant to criticise the Tory-run county.

However the council’s plans have angered Conservative communities secretary Eric Pickles who branded the move “reckless”.

Dr Poulter questioned the need for the county to employ people to sell itself.

He said: “This should not be a main focus for a local authority during this financial crisis – it should be concentrating on social care and other vital services.

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