Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Dear Mr Pickles
Westminster City Council advert for Director of Communications to be paid £125,000 a year
I am writing to draw your attention to the fact that Westminster City Council is advertising for a new £125,000 a year Director of Communications at the same time as it is making £12 million of cuts to services to children and the elderly and axing its entire £350,000 a year Arts and Culture programme.
Having read your publication, ’50 ways to save – Examples of sensible savings in local government’, published in December 2012, I am sure that you will agree that, at a time of economic austerity, there is no justification for spending £125,000 of Council Tax payers’ money on another expensive bureaucrat, especially when the Council’s £3 million a year Communications Department already employs;
- Deputy Head of Communications – £90,000
- Head of Media Relations – £82,000
- Head of Strategy – £78,000
- Head of Policy and Partnerships – £72,000
- Senior Communications Manager – £61,000
In addition, you will be aware that the Council has been claiming large savings through tri-borough working with Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils, and I am sure you will find it surprising that Westminster Council is not proposing to share this soon-to-be-vacant chief officer post with its neighbours. Indeed, the first of your ’50 ways to save’ is “Share back office services” and number 23 is “Share senior staff”. At the very least Westminster Council should be able to save over £80,000 a year by sharing this post with its two neighbouring boroughs.
I have also learned from the Council that headhunters costing £25,000 have been employed to find suitable candidates for this post. This is in direct contravention of your advice to “Cut spending on head hunters and expensive adverts” (Number 29 on your ’50 ways to save’.
You will no doubt be aware that the Council says that it has axed its entire £350,000 Arts and Culture programme because the money is needed to pay for meals on wheels for the elderly. But now we find out that there is £125,000 to pay for another expensive bureaucrat to supplement the already massive array of well-paid spin doctors working for the Council.
I urge you to step in and tell the Council to stop wasting Council Tax payers’ money on this unnecessary job.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg,
Leader of the Labour Group