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.