Fury over £500-a-day contracts at South Ribble Council

Interim managers' £500-a-day ongoing contracts at South Ribble Council have sparked outrage as the council also prepares for redundancies.

Tuesday, 26th September 2017, 10:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th September 2017, 10:27 am
South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland

A major management restructure – which will mean job losses – includes sharing some top brass jobs and more services with Chorley Council.

Staff at the authority are said to be furious that interims from outside are being brought in on lucrative contracts. It is understood five interim posts were created to spearhead a shake up of the authority in the wake of the taxi licensing scandal.

Their salaries equate to £130,000 a year.

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South Ribble says it has a small number of interim consultants – brought in to transform the authority after it faced “challenging times”.

The council claims it has extensively engaged with all parties – particularly staff – every step of the way throughout the restructure process.

Recruitment will also be ring-fenced for affected staff in the first instance and the council will offer full support, including interview training and skills and techniques prior to the interview stage.

In addition, it says, financial advice, pension guidance and pre-retirement support has already been made available.

Support will also be offered to all managers who are offered and accept re-deployment opportunities too.

A confidential report on the proposed restructure will go before South Ribble’s full council tomorrow.

It could save the council more than £400,000 a year if the plans are approved, says the authority.

Chief executive Heather McManus said: “These proposals, if agreed, will transform the way we work and put regeneration and growth at the very heart of what we do. It will also help us save money so we can improve our services – offering the very best value for money possible.”

Mrs McManus, who joined the council in July, said all parties including staff, councillors and UNISON have been extensively consulted on the plans.

She added: “We have undertaken detailed consultations to ensure the proposed re-structure we present on Wednesday is right.

“I am absolutely determined to create a culture of continual improvement at the council and provide growth and opportunity for all staff.

“I want them to feel supported in all that they do and feel proud to work at South Ribble Borough Council.”

Council leader Peter Mullineaux said: “As leader, I welcome the proposed restructure and look forward to discussing the details at the meeting of Full Council on Wednesday evening.”

Councillor Paul Foster, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “We have serious concerns about the levels of taxpayers’ money being spent on interims.

“We don’t see how these interims, and there’s going to be more by the way, fits into the strategy for delivering value for money.”

He even reckoned “we could be looking millions of pounds at South Ribble” in the last 18 months.

He said: “There’s absolutely no doubt South Ribble Borough Council needs to restructure - it’s been completely disfunctional for the past two or three years.

“The concerns we have is what you can’t do is rush into proposing something new.

“We just need to look at it carefully and reserve judgement and fully understand the impact and make sure it’s right for the tax payers.”