Eric Pickles critical of Croydon Council spend on new officers
THE Government has demanded answers from Croydon Council after it advertised for new officers costing £400,000 – days after increasing council tax.
The council is advertising for nine "regeneration" managers and officers, with the job adverts featured in one Surrey-based newspaper just two days after the authority's leader, Mike Fisher, confirmed the tax increase.
But the Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has rounded on the Tory-run council, for advertising the highly-paid jobs at this time.
He said: "Town halls refusing to freeze council tax need to explain to their taxpayers why they have been hiking their numbers of highly paid staff.
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"There is still massive scope for sensible savings in local Government to help cut tax and protect frontline services. Every local council should be helping hard-working families and pensioners with the cost of living."
The job advert seeks two "Senior Regeneration Managers", both being paid £52,704 a year, four "Regeneration Managers", who will receive up to £47,907, and three "Regeneration Officers", at up to £38,961.
The successful candidates will "identify innovative delivery solutions" and "scope, appraise and enable potential schemes", according to the advert.
Simon Hall, Labour shadow cabinet member for finance, attacked the Conservatives for giving the borough a "raw deal" with their "skewed" agenda.
He said: "The money being spent on these jobs, and the millions being spent on the new HQ; it's totally skewed priorities while frontline services are being cut.
"The people of Croydon are getting a raw deal, they are suffering from the total incompetence and waste. As a result some of the most vulnerable in Croydon, from old people to people with disabilities, are the ones really paying the price."
But Steve O'Connell, the Conservative cabinet member for finance, defended his party's record.
He said: "I think it's right that we invest in our regeneration team. People will understand and expect the council to take forward the future plans of the town properly.
"We are increasing council tax to protect frontline services and deliver on our plans."
Croydon's council tax demand is to increase by 1.85 per cent, despite more than 200 local councils across the UK signalling they will freeze the levy for residents. Band D taxpayers could be paying up to an extra £21.28 a year.
A council spokesman said: "There is no additional cost to the council.
"The posts are from within the existing budget and from a restructure."