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Redbridge Conservatives slam 'obscene' council proposals to install another senior director

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 September 2019

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

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Conservative councillors have opposed "obscene" proposals to employ another senior director at Redbridge Council for £130,000 while existing staff are "still under threat of losing their jobs".

The proposals, put forward at full council on Thursday, September 19, were approved despite objections from Redbridge Conservatives.

The council's senior management tier has been operating on an interim basis since the corporate director of place position became vacant in November 2018.

The restructure will see the removal of the corporate director of place position and the creation of two new corporate director posts - the corporate director of communities and corporate director of regeneration and culture.

Redbridge Conservative leader, Councillor Linda Huggett, said: "Since 2016 the whole senior leadership team at Redbridge has changed with redundancy.

"Costs estimated in excess of £1million pounds up to 2017.

"One payment alone for a staff member who had worked for Redbridge for just three years was more than £245,000.

"We lost all our former experienced senior directors who left or were made redundant - staff morale is now at an extreme low as they are going through the "transformation" or "termination" process which is still under way.

"The redundancy savings at senior level were supposed to deliver a more streamlined, focused team so maybe this was a director cut too far.

"To therefore recommend that we now need another director at an additional cost of approximately £130,000 is not only an indication that the transformation process is going seriously wrong but also an affront to our existing staff who are still under threat of losing their jobs.

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"My group will not be agreeing to this obscene proposal as the administration should be prioritising filling the current existing vacancies and not increasing the staff budget."

There are no staff directly affected by the changes and the new position will be funded from existing budgets, the council said.

The changes will "better orientate the council around the needs of communities, residents, businesses and customers", the local authority added.

The restructure will see the council re-organised into five departments - people, communities, regeneration and culture, strategy, change and communications, and resources - each led by a corporate director.

"The main implication of the structure is an additional corporate director - effectively splitting the Place directorate into two," the report said.

"It became very clear over the previous three years that given the scale of ambition and the level of need in this area the council requires additional leadership capacity to ensure that it got the necessary attention."

Councillor Kam Rai, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance and resources, said: "Since taking over the mess left to us by the Tories in 2014 we have reduced the payroll costs by more than £24m a year to date and cut the agency staff cost by £13m a year in the past three years.

"That was their legacy to the residents of Redbridge.

"Recruiting a director will mean we will have a senior manager who will focus on housing and civic pride only, and we know that cleansing and enforcement are two of the most important issues for many of our residents.

"We have made huge savings in our payroll budget, in the millions, and if we reinvest some of that back into further improving the services residents tell us matter, then it is worthwhile and the right thing to do.

"I am always astounded that the local Tories never back the residents' needs or question their government on the 60per cent cut to our funding."

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