Budget Conversation – spending on senior staff posts

One of the most popular topics amongst users in the first three weeks of the Bristol Budget Conversation has been spending on senior staff posts.

Several people have suggested that the post of Deputy Chief Executive at the City Council should be left vacant to save money, once the current postholder leaves in August to take up his new job in Cardiff.

Others have questioned whether or not the Council is wise, in these difficult financial times, to be recruiting a Place Making Director – to further help promote Bristol to investors and visitors, all in support of our local economy.

The common theme behind these comments is that when money is tight, it feels right that belts are tightened amongst the higher paid ranks of council staff.

Well – here’s the City Council’s response.

We largely agree.

We have filled the Deputy Chief Executive post – but on only a temporary basis, and with one of the Council’s existing Strategic Directors, Graham Sims taking on these responsibilities.

We have completed the recruitment of a Place Making Director post – because we think it is doubly important during tough economic times that we get even better at attracting investment, jobs, skills and tourist money into Bristol’s economy.  We have taken the point though – so we are now well on the way to raising the majority of the cost of this initiative from external cash contributions, so as to take the pressure off the taxpayer.

Finally, we have unveiled proposals for a two-stage senior staff restructuring, which will be considered formally by Councillors later this summer, after the legally required consultation period.  The first phase of these proposals is to take out one of the highest paid posts in the Council, a ‘strategic director’, as well as a number of other relatively high paid posts – sharing the work more widely round remaining staff.  The second phase, to be completed at a later stage, proposes to take out further such senior posts, including removing two further ‘strategic director’ jobs.

I hope this reassures you that we are listening to what people say, with cuts starting right at the very top.

11 thoughts on “Budget Conversation – spending on senior staff posts

  1. Hi,

    I recently came across this article. The link to the entire content is attached.


    “Jan Ormondroyd, heading Bristol Council for £220,457”. Apparently she has recently had a salary rise.

    Can any of the councillors justify this hike and high salary when there are talks about jobs cut both in public and private sector, cuts in means tested benefit etc.?

    The real cut should start at the top and not with the people who are at the bottom of the ladder and are already struggling to cope with the recession. And the worse is yet to come in term of increase on VAT to 20%.


    R John

  2. I learn from the Shropshire Star that Shropshire Council will be cutting its senior management by 50%.

    Under the proposals, the council’s corporate management team will be reduced from six directors to a senior team of just three, which will include the chief executive and two strategic directors.

    Will Bristol City Council be following Shropshire’s lead?

  3. There was a senior management restructuring two years ago. If you’re now doing another one is this an admission that the last one was flawed?

    • Senior management needs to be constantly under review.

      When vacancies arise (for example Jon House moving to Cardiff), then that is an opportunity to review senior posts, as has been done.

      • Trouble is, all staff at BCC seem to be under constant review. Doesn’t this in itself demotivate and therefore reduce their productivity?

        Isn’t there a whole macho-management thing going on here – change to be seen to be doing something?

        Doesn’t it take time to gain the expertise to do a job properly and to its most efficient?

        In which case, doesn’t constant re-organisation become self-defeating?

  4. Good questions.

    The council has also been applying a strong Vacancy Management scheme, which has meant that many of the staff savings identified in current budgets are being delivered without voluntary or compulsory redundancies.

  5. Once again, BCC have failed to provide any really significant information on budgeting to help Bristolians reach valid conclusions and make a meaningful contribution to this debate.

    Such information would include:

    1. How many staff are employed on each of the management grades?
    2. What are their specific job titles and responsibilities?
    3. What are their salaries and other support costs for their employment?

    I’m sure others can come up with other valid requests for information.

    From the post above, all it would seem the council has done is played a very short round of musical chairs, which has been of marginal benefit to cutting costs.

    Moreover, you claim to be “listening to what people say. As you have already appointed a Place Making Director, this statement is not exactly truthful.

      • John

        I’ve regularly asked questions of Bristol City Council via ‘What Do They Know’.

        My comment above was made solely in the context of this present, flawed ‘consultation’ and I don’t think I’m the only citizen of Bristol to have questioned the Council’s methods of conducting this exercise.

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