12 January 2010

Why on earth are the Lib Dems paying council chiefs bonuses if Southwark is failing?!

Last night I went along to a council Overview and Scrutiny meeting to see the Lib Dem Executive Member for Resources, Cllr Tim McNally, being quizzed about council finances.

One of the issues that was discussed was the payment of bonuses to approximately 40 of the most senior staff at Southwark. As Cllr McNally explained, there are two ways to pay people, either by a fixed salary or you can incentivise pay and make it performance related. Fair enough you might think. However it seems that the Lib Dems and Tories running Southwark have devised a third way to pay staff - paying a 10% or even 15% bonus to the highest paid staff that bares no resemblance to council performance given that, just a few weeks ago, Southwark was officially rated the worst council in inner London!

We are in difficult economic times and you and I are counting our pennies. In the coming weeks it's increasingly likely that a whole host of council schemes will be cut as the capital programme spending is reviewed, and as Cllr McNally freely admitted last night, various council services, such as crematorium fees, will be the subject of above inflation price rises. Unlike neighbouring boroughs, Southwark has refused to commit to freezing council tax. Yet, on the very day his own party leader, Nick Clegg, said that public sector pay increases should be capped at £400 and against the backdrop of the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, re-writing the rule book on bonuses by taxing those of bankers, Cllr McNally refused to hold senior officers to account for Southwark's failures. By refusing to review the system of payment of bonuses or being clear on whether bonuses would be paid this year the Lib Dems are not showing the fiscal leadership that is urgently needed at Southwark.

Utterly ridiculous.

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