The ‘West End Extra’ reports;
“A CONSERVATIVE councillor has come under fire for trying to employ an “executive assistant” to help carry out his duties at City Hall, including responding to questions from “the general public”.
Jonathan Glanz, who was elected to represent residents of the West End, is advertising for the full-time role on a recruitment website which is usually reserved for those working in the Houses of Parliament.
His assistant’s duties will include “responding to emails and letters” and “dealing with all correspondence in a sensitive and confidential manner,” according to the listing on not-for-profit site http://www.w4mp jobs.org.
Cllr Glanz, who is the director of property company 45West, is also employed as a consultant to advise the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) on the best way to sell former Met buildings, including the recent sale of dozens of axed police stations.
The job advertisement explained that the successful applicant would help Cllr Glanz with his “wide ranging political interests” and would need to “liaise with relevant groups / personnel both for Westminster City Council and MOPAC commitments, including liaison with outside organisations and the general public.”
One Westminster resident who spotted the advert wrote (see Letters) to the West End Extra: “Maybe I am old-fashioned but if I write to my local councillor I want a response from the person I elected not somebody hired to generate stock responses to me.” She asked: “Are we entering a culture where councillors no longer deign to undertake the work they were elected to do?”
Cllr Glanz said the assistant would be paid “significantly more” than the basic £9,000 a year allowance given to councillors, adding: “This is basically someone who is my assistant in my business, who will help to make my life do-able.
“Given that I devote a huge proportion of my time to public service in return for a very modest emolument, I am paying this out of my money.”
Asked if residents could expect a response from him personally, Cllr Glanz said: “They connect with me, whether I physically have the opportunity to put in the strokes on the keyboard, or whether somebody mechanics that on my behalf. They would only ever be dealing with me, because that’s my role. I don’t think it’s my role necessarily to tie myself to a computer screen and keyboard 24/7.”
He said: “Like everybody else I only have 24 hours in a day and people want, and now demand, a very prompt response. The councillors’ code of conduct gives you 10 working days to respond to a constituent query. I can tell you that in these days of email, constituents expect a response within 10 minutes. I think people have to be realistic as to how that can be achieved, given that people have other things that they are obliged to do.”
Westminster Council Labour group leader Paul Dimoldenberg said: “If Councillor Glanz is unable to do the job he should stand down and allow West End residents to chose someone else who is committed to putting residents first.”
Cllr Glanz was forced to resign as housing chief last year after comparing council tenants to champagne-swilling characters from the TV show Made in Chelsea.