Confusion Remains Over Council Officer Bonuses

Council Chamber at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Whether a handful of Council staff, including their most senior officers, keep a £4,500 discretionary salary boost is uncertain.

In a confused Council meeting, Councillors voted not to accept a written framework for assessing whether an employee gets the market factor forces supplement.

Richard McCarthy told members he was, “fed up to the back teeth of these lump sum payments” and he suggested abolishing them in April.

He quoted Council Chairman Mike Hicks who told Radio Scilly listeners in October that the extra payments would be axed.

Richard wanted the senior staff pay to be assessed like that of other Council staff, by the established job evaluation process.

But Policy and Resources Committee Chairman, Marian Bennett, stopped Councillor McCarthy from saying any more as she felt specific salary-boost payment amounts should not be publically discussed. She tried to steer members back onto the market factor policy report prepared by local government human resources expert, Russ Symons.

Symons’ blueprint outlines the terms and conditions for staff to qualify for the hugely controversial annual award.

His policy document recommended paying individuals in hard-to-fill roles a premium rate to reflect the market competitiveness of the job. A position could be considered eligible for extra salary if there was a poor response to job adverts, a high staff turnover in a role or employees elsewhere were getting more money for similar duties.

The supplements would be paid as a temporary allowance, which would be reviewed annually and could be withdrawn or reduced.

Staff could use the bonus figure when calculating their salary for mortgage applications and they would also be pensionable.

And that’s the sticking point for some members, because Russ Symons’ previous advice was that they would not attract pension rights.

Marian Bennett warned against Richard McCarthy’s comment that the original advice had been ‘flawed.’

Fred Ticehurst was unhappy that the issue of market factor supplements was still being challenged. He stated that a majority of councillors voted to accept the pay boost in what was a controversial and close-vote.

But Amanda Martin felt that, as the original information they voted on was now known to be inaccurate, the new framework couldn’t be accepted.

Both Julia Day and Christine Savill wanted to adopt the policy as a basis for future discussions and felt they could not move forward on further debate over the amounts of pay boost without accepting the framework.

But when it came to the vote, the guidelines were rejected by 5 votes to 4.

Some members had suggested continuing discussions in the private session of the meeting where the press and public are excluded.

Christine Savill warned that the Council couldn’t legally put policy discussions behind closed doors and Marian Bennett said she wanted to discuss the policy publically.

However, specific issues about the Chief Officers’ pay and how Finance Director, Peter Lawrence, will deal with the resignation of another key officer from his department were kept on the agenda for the confidential part of the meeting.

Members will again discuss the market factor supplement, in the full Council meeting in March.


11 Responses to Confusion Remains Over Council Officer Bonuses

  1. Cassandra March 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve been trying to remember what was done back in the 70s when there was a similar level of concern about the conduct of Council officers, the Town Clerk in particular. I know that a Ratepayer’s Association was formed and, from memory, the late Pat Greenlaw was the chairman and was later elected to the Council. I guess we need to start building a popular consensus for change probably focused around what I see as the active pro taxpayer councillors – Richard McCarthy and Amanda Martin.

  2. visitor March 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I have noticed in recent weeks that more and more are taking to this excellent website to raise legitimate concerns about the way that your beautiful islands are being run. I appreciate that there will be some of you who ask, quite rightly, what an outsider such as myself is doing by poking my nose into your affairs, but I – and many others – care deeply for the longterm sustainability of your community.

    How can it possibly be right that by far and away the most active, the most powerful, the most administered, most highly staffed and expensive outfit on the islands is the administrative branch of island life? Surely a community becomes, by definition, unsustainable when the state (or local council) employs more people than any other single employer or sector?

    My wife and I will continue to visit your wonderful islands, and wil be pleased to do to so for many years. BUT, I have to say that many of my friends from the islands are now talking openly of revolt – and this includes someone who works for the council. In constant emails back and forth between myself and old island friends I hear of inefficiency and behaviour that borders on the questionable.

    It is not my place to name names or even refer to specific incidents and I never will but I just want to make you aware that whilst you will always live on a special and magical part of the British Isles, you are still vulnerable to the “follies of the politicians” as they say, and I just very much hope that the future generations (or frankly, anyone thinking of the benefit of the future at all) will start to show an interest in how your islands are run and to whose benefit they are run for.

    That is all I shall say for now, but my friends and even one or two colleagues are following with interest about how your islands are administered – for your benefit, not for the benefit of we vistitors – and we very much look forward to our next visit. As we always do!

  3. Linda March 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    You are one of many wondering just that. The amount of money sloshing around within Council is obscene.

  4. Cassandra March 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    You aren’t the only person with that opinion – trust me. The question is what can we do about it?

  5. Rich March 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Here is some interesting information from an Ex-Mainlander in light of the Council and the way it operates. I moved here in February last year and love the Islands and I am married to a Scilly girl. Moved here from a TOWN in North Wales that had a total population of 6000 people. The TOWN Council was run by a TOWN CLERK who earned £35,000 a year. Remember 6000 people and £35,000 a year.
    The Whole COUNTY with a population of 94,000 was run by a COUNTY COUNCIL who employed a CHIEF EXECUTIVE earning £89,000 a year. So 94,000 people and £89,000 a year.

    Ok now the Isles of Scilly have a population on around 2,100 which is comparable with a small village on the mainland.

    So here is my confusion:

    Why do the Islands employ twice as many people on the Council than the 6000 people populated TOWN Council I used to live in.

    Why does the CHIEF EXECUTIVE here on the Islands with a population of only 2100 people earn the amount of money as someone who is running a COUNTY COUNCIL of 94000 people and in fact earns more money than the PRIME MINISTER of the UNITED KINGDOM who is running a WHOLE COUNTRY.

    Why in the current financial climate is this being allowed to happen seemingly unopposed when in fact it equates to running a VILLAGE COUNCIL with maybe a few more logistical problems, but even so.

    Surely I can’t be the only person to find this ludicrous and wrong?

  6. Jon Mackenzie March 3, 2012 at 2:51 am

    I believe that EVERY aspect of Council business should be open to the public, particularly when it is a salary matter. Perhaps that way many Chief Executives throughout the UK will no longer be paid more than the Prime Minister.

    Section 12 of The Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency, published in September last year, states that “as a minimum, public data that should be released includes:

    Senior employee salaries, names (with the option for individuals to refuse to
    consent for their name to be published), job descriptions, responsibilities,
    budgets and numbers of staff. ‘Senior employee salaries’ is defined as all
    salaries which are above £58,200 and above (irrespective of post), which is the
    Senior Civil Service minimum pay band. Budgets should include the overall
    salary cost of staff reporting to each senior employee”

    I read from the Council of the Isles of Scilly Website that on September 29, 2011, the Council was ‘considering the implication of the revised limits for the disclosure of individual salaries’.

    I wondered if someone at the Council might explain publicly how much longer they wish to consider this matter and why, in the meantime, they do not at least adhere to the minimum requirement?

  7. Cassandra March 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    …….. but how do we turn a statement of political intent into effective action against the Council?

  8. Keri Jones March 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Jon, Marian didn’t want the cash amounts mentioned. When it is a salary or contract matter it can be discussed in part 3 with public and press excluded. But it is deemed ok to talk about a broad policy in the public session. Marian was happy to discuss the policy document, the blueprint. She didn’t want individuals or cash amounts aired publicly. Regards Keri

  9. Cassandra March 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Looks like the Government’s with us on this one

  10. Jon Mackenzie March 1, 2012 at 2:46 am

    “Marian Bennett, stopped Councillor McCarthy from saying any more as she felt specific salary-boost payment amounts should not be publicly discussed.”

    “…Marian Bennett said she wanted to discuss the policy publicly”.

    Now I’m confused! Perhaps I’m also being naive but I find it utterly deplorable that any aspect of Council business is not discussed publicly.

  11. Mike Brown February 29, 2012 at 8:25 am

    They really have got themselves in a pickle over this. Sorry Fred but only five councillors narrowly voted through the pay hike & supplements, the other sixteen were blissfully unaware and when the news hit the fan two resigned!

    It is incredible that they are being paid because there is no policy in place for them.

    Mike Hicks, chairman of our council – the boss – did state on the radio that these supplements would end so why don’t they stop them and sort out their policy first?