North Lincolnshire Council spends more money on a 'non-job'

January 07, 2011 10:44 AM



In October, we issued a report on unnecessary jobs in councils. We identified a number of posts that could be abolished, and one of those 'non-jobs' was that of a political advisor/assistant. This is what we said about it in our report:
These are employees who are hired to provide political advice and assistance to elected councillors and party groups. The question has to be asked: why do local councillors require such advice? Councillors – who generally operate on a part-time basis – should be well accustomed to their ward and issues concerning their local residents. If there is a need to elect a better standard of councillor, then that is a separate question.

Councils should stick to providing key services, such as keeping streets clean and maintaining vital infrastructure. Paid professional political advice could mean that councillors become too ambitious above and beyond these fundamental goals. It is an unnecessary role, proven by the fact that many councils operate perfectly well without them.

North Lincolnshire Council was identified in our report as having two political assistants, costing taxpayers £94,334. Both the Conservative opposition and the ruling Labour group had a political assistant each, and their contracts ran from May 2007, until the next election in May this year. On August 31 last year, the political assistant for the Conservative group left the authority, and it was decided by the group they should not be replaced.

Unfortunately, the ruling group has not only held on to their political assistant, they have gone a step further, and awarded them a permanent contract with the council. This clearly goes against rules set down by the authority which state:
When a post becomes vacant initial consideration must be given as to whether it is necessary to fill the vacancy. This should take place in consultation with the relevant Service Director and Head of HR and address the following:

Does this post provide an essential front line service? Are there statutory or legal requirements associated with the post? Is the post externally funded? Can the service be continued to be provided without the post?

Clearly this job is not an essential front line service. There aren't any statutory or legal requirements associated with the post. It is not externally funded, and if one group can manage without a political assistant, why can't the other?

At a time when the council is reining in spending, it is very disappointing to hear the ruling group on North Lincolnshire Council is putting itself first. During the recent cold snap, pavements in North Lincolnshire  - in common with many across the country - were treacherous to walk on. Spending almost £50K a year on a political assistant is not a good use of taxpayers' money, and could be spent keeping pavements ice free.

With an election looming in May, perhaps the leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Mark Kirk will have a re-think, and save taxpayers the burden of this unnecessary job.



In October, we issued a report on unnecessary jobs in councils. We identified a number of posts that could be abolished, and one of those 'non-jobs' was that of a political advisor/assistant. This is what we said about it in our report:
These are employees who are hired to provide political advice and assistance to elected councillors and party groups. The question has to be asked: why do local councillors require such advice? Councillors – who generally operate on a part-time basis – should be well accustomed to their ward and issues concerning their local residents. If there is a need to elect a better standard of councillor, then that is a separate question.

Councils should stick to providing key services, such as keeping streets clean and maintaining vital infrastructure. Paid professional political advice could mean that councillors become too ambitious above and beyond these fundamental goals. It is an unnecessary role, proven by the fact that many councils operate perfectly well without them.

North Lincolnshire Council was identified in our report as having two political assistants, costing taxpayers £94,334. Both the Conservative opposition and the ruling Labour group had a political assistant each, and their contracts ran from May 2007, until the next election in May this year. On August 31 last year, the political assistant for the Conservative group left the authority, and it was decided by the group they should not be replaced.

Unfortunately, the ruling group has not only held on to their political assistant, they have gone a step further, and awarded them a permanent contract with the council. This clearly goes against rules set down by the authority which state:
When a post becomes vacant initial consideration must be given as to whether it is necessary to fill the vacancy. This should take place in consultation with the relevant Service Director and Head of HR and address the following:

Does this post provide an essential front line service? Are there statutory or legal requirements associated with the post? Is the post externally funded? Can the service be continued to be provided without the post?

Clearly this job is not an essential front line service. There aren't any statutory or legal requirements associated with the post. It is not externally funded, and if one group can manage without a political assistant, why can't the other?

At a time when the council is reining in spending, it is very disappointing to hear the ruling group on North Lincolnshire Council is putting itself first. During the recent cold snap, pavements in North Lincolnshire  - in common with many across the country - were treacherous to walk on. Spending almost £50K a year on a political assistant is not a good use of taxpayers' money, and could be spent keeping pavements ice free.

With an election looming in May, perhaps the leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Mark Kirk will have a re-think, and save taxpayers the burden of this unnecessary job.

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