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Cut Southend Council payroll by 15% and wipe out the deficit and potential bankruptcy

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Review of Cabinet Meeting

Tuesday, 12th December 2023 at 7:00pm 


I still don’t get it.


Of 184 ideas put forward from across all councillors, it seems not one suggested cutting the pay and/or total package of the Southend Council payroll.


How come?


It would be the first thing I’d do were I in charge.  Granted, be mindful of the lower bands, but overall, we can’t afford to pay as much as we are, so let’s take it down to a level that works.


Bankruptcy is imminent we keep hearing, but the council officers don’t seem to be willing to come forward.


There would be huge barriers concerning unions, legalities abd effects on staff morale, but there is an enormous sense of hypocrisy when the top team are taking home total packages between £80K to £225K, whilst they are the drivers behind fortnightly bin collections, closing libraries, closing family centres, reducing services in dementia and increasing council fees and charges 3 months before the financial year has ended, and that is on top of the 10% increase they had already dished out by the previous administration.


Ludicrous ideas were provided by the Greens that even the Green councillor apologised for! Build over Belfairs golf course! End 2-hour free parking in Leigh Broadway!  Bring in ULEZ! Lose the Mayor! Other than that, the most creative suggestion we had from any quarter was put the parking up!


I watched the new film ‘Wonka’ the other day and, without giving too much away, the landlord charged for climbing the stairs, opening the door, sleeping on pillowcases and walking on the floor.  It is not difficult to figure out how to rip us off! What’s difficult is creating wealth.


How many times does anyone have to say it?  Create a super friendly small business environment that inspires waves of local entrepreneurs willing to risk their money, who in-turn will create jobs, and who in-turn will spend much of their money locally.  This is wealth creation, this is the solution - nothing else. Either make a business have to sell 50 items a day or 500; one option will see Southend flourish and the other will see us dead.


It is exasperating to watch.  Blame central government for cutting grants over the decade - yes.  Blame both parties during COVID for paying the entire country to stay at home. It was madness to do what they did, but at the time the country was hypnotised. Blame them again for the waste and corruption that sets fire to our money.  But, Southend itself must take responsibility for the way it generates growth, and yet I hear nothing about the business environment as a source to the promised land.


To be fair, this is easier said than done and would require the right people in charge with enough time to do it.  In the meantime, just cut the bloody pay!


The Numbers


For those interested, I have taken the liberty to work out the calculations for what pay cuts would equate to the £10m deficit.


It turns out that a 15% cut from level 6 upward would do it, and that is without touching pensions or any other perks. However, these figures can be adjusted as much as everyone is comfortable with - these are starting numbers only. And to reiterate, we would need to be very careful with the lower bands.


The details can be found in the below attachment, which shows 1786 on the payroll earning a total of £67m between them.


The Executive Board alone costs over £2m per year, and were paid another £10K or so extra for some inexplicable reason. This is not to vilify Officers themselves, it is only to observe the pay structure. In normal times you might say fair enough, but those times are not now. At the very least, I would call for a public consultation on pay at the top.


If I am right and these figures are correct or thereabouts, there should never have been a cause for panic. Cut the cloth accordingly and residents could see the street lights turned back up to 100%, our grass cut more than once a year and parking charges reduced to a level where Southend High Street might have a chance.


To the council workers, this is not to disparage or take for granted the work you do. I know firsthand there are so many talented and hard-working people who do their best for our city. Asking you to take a 15% cut or any cut at all is asking for Southend to survive. Once bankruptcy ensues only statutory duties will be performed and, as said at this meeting, symbols of Southend such as The Pier will be no more.


Before I close, I must just mention the supposed culprit for the current financial meltdown: adult and child social care. There remain unanswered questions as to what has happened over the last few years that has blown out of all control. The Council has already suggested it was the wage bill, but how did that happen? Who was responsible? What are we doing about it?


Lastly, the Conservatives know they are on a sticky budgetary wicket come May, and their invitation for cross-party suggestions is a tactical win.  Assuming it is a tactic, they will always be able to say their budget was collective and therefore the responsibility is shared amongst the entire council. Well played!


References



Southend Council Payroll
.xlsx
Download XLSX • 18KB

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Tris Bee
Tris Bee
2023년 12월 14일

Dear James Sir, (friend and now political rival!)


Tris Bembridge (Independent, Non-Aligned Candidate here!)


A 15% cut would be the easiest method BUT, staff have already seen a staffing massacre for year, after year, seeing workloads go up, up, up time and time again.

It's also of note the crisis is not a result of the everyday staff at the council who bare no guilt for the said crisis.

They work ludicrously hard in the everyday roles and seen (If at all) meagre payrises year in, year out.

Conditions have got tougher too.

Executive pay by contrast should be slaughted, BUT AS THE SITUATION STANDS IT IS THE GOING NATIONAL STATATORY LEVEL, This said how anyone on a local authority…


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답글 상대:

Hi Tris


Good to hear from you and thanks for taking the time to respond so thoroughly.


At the very least I wanted the conversation to be had. It wouldn’t be a simple as a blanket 15%, but something needs to happen around pay or other areas of remuneration. Would the worker rather lose their job or take a pay reduction? Many may be in favour.


Best, James


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Brian Ayling
Brian Ayling
2023년 12월 14일
별점 5점 중 5점을 주었습니다.

It had to be said......but.....is anyone listening? Must say, the majority of our Counciilors do not look hungry!

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