Conservative councils under attack

Somerset council have spent £46,000 and counting to recruit a chief executive. £46,000.

Two southern England Tory councils have come under attack this week for failing to provide value for money.

Somerset county council, where the Conservatives have a 12-seat majority, has managed to rack up a bill of £46,000 and counting to recruit a new chief executive: £20,000 on headhunters, £4,000 on a ‘microsite’ – a website detailing the job and recruitment process – and more than £21,500 on advertising.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillor Ross Henley described the figures as “a disgrace.” He added:

“This is an enormous waste of money. The Tories at County Hall talk and talk about saving money and then waste £46,000 on filling one job vacancy. The Conservatives have sadly and badly misjudged the public mood if they feel it’s appropriate to spend this sort of public money to fill one job vacancy.”

And in Newbury, Tory-run West Berkshire council were dealt a blow after a survey revealed less than half of respondents were satisfied by council services, with nearly two-thirds replying they were poorly informed about the council’s work in tackling anti-social behaviour, though satisfaction levels for doorstep recycling and local waste services have actually increased from the previous year.

Council leader Graham Jones blamed the poor results on the timing of the recent Place Survey. He said:

“The survey was conducted at the worse possible moment, immediatly after the new bin service was introduced. Neccesary changes were made to collections and whilst the step change in recycling provision was evident the new service took a number of months to settle down. Residents of Reading now look in envy at our refuse and recycling service, particularly our weekly bin collection.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.