Suffolk to get new spin doctor -for �64k
A SALARY of up to �64,000 a year could be offered to tempt a new chief spin doctor to Suffolk County Council despite a looming cash squeeze on local authority spending.
Councillors are being asked to approve the new position next week – but the person appointed to the post will have fewer staff and a much lower salary than their predecessor.
The new position will be a full-time replacement for Caryl Jackson, who left at the start of the year after about 15 months in the job. She was paid �83,000 a year.
Whoever gets the post is expected to start work before the end of the year and will take over from interim director of communications Jill Rawlins.
When Ms Rawlins was hired in June there was anger over the amount her appointment cost – she is being paid �650 a day and a further �150 a day in agency fees.
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That means over her six-month contract she will cost Suffolk’s council taxpayers �104,000.
The new communications chief at the council will have a salary of between �55,000 and �64,000 and will be on a grade lower than their predecessors.
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The council’s staff committee is to decide whether to go ahead with starting the search at a special meeting next week.
If the committee decides to go ahead with the appointment, advertisements will be published at the end of August, applications will be sent out and returned by the end of September and a long list and then a short list will be produced by the middle of October.
The council hopes to make an appointment by then and the new head of communications should be available to start work before the end of the year – Ms Rawlins’ contract runs until December.
The new head of communications will be responsible for two press officers, two senior communications officers, and ten strategic communications officers.
That is much smaller than the current communications department.
Opposition leader Kathy Pollard welcomed the news that the head of communications would be a less senior job than before, but doubted whether even this level of seniority was needed in an organisation facing severe cuts.
She said: “I had told (director of resource management) Graham Dixon that the new head should not be at assistant director level and I am glad that has been taken on board.
“But I’m not at all sure that we need someone even at this level in the current climate – a chief press officer actually doing a real job on half that salary might be enough.
“However we are taking part in the process because we think it is important to have a say in an appointment like this and John Field will be representing us at all stages of the interview process.”
No members of the administration wished to comment on the appointment but a spokeswoman for the council said: “No decision has yet been made over the appointment of a head of communications, the Staff Appointments Committee will debate the issue at their next meeting.”