Non-job of the week

February 03, 2011 5:43 PM

If I was to conduct an opinion poll asking people what services they wanted from their local council, I don't think it's very difficult to predict some of the answers. We expect our bins to be emptied, the streets cleaned, roads gritted during the winter months. We expect core services that no other organisation other than some form of government can provide.

If a pollster asked what we expect from a councillor, I imagine the answers would be along the lines of someone who cares and knows about the problems of the ward they represent. Fights for the interests of local people, and is capable of communicating with council officers, fellow councillors, and if necessary the media. At least that's what I want from my local councillors.

Bearing these two hypothetical questions in mind, what people don't want is our non-job this week. London Councils are looking for a Chief Media and Commnications Officer earning a not inconsiderable £72,000 a year. Here's what the advert says:

London Councils develops policy, lobbies government and others and runs a range of services all designed to make life better for Londoners.

 Promoting the issues that matter for London, and its boroughs, is a massive challenge, and one we’d like you to lead on.

 You will lead a team of 12 to maximise the influence of London local government, making the most of media opportunities and developing links with parliamentarians and other organisations to strengthen the impact of all lobbying work.

 You will already have extensive experience of the wider communications role, impressive media and public affairs knowledge, and the nous to operate successfully in a political sphere. You will also have the confidence and ideas to think innovatively to ensure our messages get across by a broad range of stakeholders and audiences.

This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced communications professional to shape the way London local government is seen by government, the Mayor and the public at large.

This officer is going to lead a team of twelve. I don't think I am being unfair by saying this team must cost taxpayers somewhere in the region of £500K a year. It may be less, and it may be more, but when you take employers' pension contributions into account, I don't think I am wide of the mark. So what messages are they communicating?

In the case of Lambeth Council, we are paying for the council to make overtly party political statements by advertising on bus shelters near Waterloo station, stating  because the government has cut our money, we are going to have to cut your services. This cost taxpayers £600. Camden council has done something similar. They spent £1000 saying, 'National government spending cuts means tough decisions for Camden's future.'

Are these the core services we expect? Councils and councillors should stick to their jobs, and endeavour to do them as well as they can. It will be obvious to everyone - and indeed is obvious to everyone - whether or not your council is performing well or not. Expensive media departments are not needed and taxpayers expect their money to be spent wisely, not frittered away like confetti at a wedding.If I was to conduct an opinion poll asking people what services they wanted from their local council, I don't think it's very difficult to predict some of the answers. We expect our bins to be emptied, the streets cleaned, roads gritted during the winter months. We expect core services that no other organisation other than some form of government can provide.

If a pollster asked what we expect from a councillor, I imagine the answers would be along the lines of someone who cares and knows about the problems of the ward they represent. Fights for the interests of local people, and is capable of communicating with council officers, fellow councillors, and if necessary the media. At least that's what I want from my local councillors.

Bearing these two hypothetical questions in mind, what people don't want is our non-job this week. London Councils are looking for a Chief Media and Commnications Officer earning a not inconsiderable £72,000 a year. Here's what the advert says:

London Councils develops policy, lobbies government and others and runs a range of services all designed to make life better for Londoners.

 Promoting the issues that matter for London, and its boroughs, is a massive challenge, and one we’d like you to lead on.

 You will lead a team of 12 to maximise the influence of London local government, making the most of media opportunities and developing links with parliamentarians and other organisations to strengthen the impact of all lobbying work.

 You will already have extensive experience of the wider communications role, impressive media and public affairs knowledge, and the nous to operate successfully in a political sphere. You will also have the confidence and ideas to think innovatively to ensure our messages get across by a broad range of stakeholders and audiences.

This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced communications professional to shape the way London local government is seen by government, the Mayor and the public at large.

This officer is going to lead a team of twelve. I don't think I am being unfair by saying this team must cost taxpayers somewhere in the region of £500K a year. It may be less, and it may be more, but when you take employers' pension contributions into account, I don't think I am wide of the mark. So what messages are they communicating?

In the case of Lambeth Council, we are paying for the council to make overtly party political statements by advertising on bus shelters near Waterloo station, stating  because the government has cut our money, we are going to have to cut your services. This cost taxpayers £600. Camden council has done something similar. They spent £1000 saying, 'National government spending cuts means tough decisions for Camden's future.'

Are these the core services we expect? Councils and councillors should stick to their jobs, and endeavour to do them as well as they can. It will be obvious to everyone - and indeed is obvious to everyone - whether or not your council is performing well or not. Expensive media departments are not needed and taxpayers expect their money to be spent wisely, not frittered away like confetti at a wedding.

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