At last! A Wolverhampton councillor sticks their neck out and speaks some common sense! But are Cllr Joan Stevenson’s wise words on the proliferation of non-jobbers within the city council just rhetoric, or will taxpayers start to see an end to the burgeoning levels of bureaucrats at the local authority?
“When it comes to this council, we are not immune to the harsh economic reality.
“As an organisation we need to change and come up with more imaginative ways of delivering services.
“In the past, too many bureaucrats were recruited who did not contribute directly to front line services,” said Cllr Stevenson in today’s Express & Star. “…for many years all we saw was spend, spend, spend, employ, employ, employ, without a thought to the future”, she continued.
Ain’t that the truth? Last year the TPA revealed that the number of middle-managers at Wolverhampton City Council had leaped from just 9 in 1996-7 to 101 in 2007-8. What’s more, in just one year (2006/7 – 2007/8) the wage bill jumped rapidly from a hearty £2.7m to an enormous £6.2m, an increase of 133.02% and the 7th largest rise in the UK.
“While we have got to make some very unpalatable decisions, we are not afraid to make them, our emphasis is on front line services rather than back office workers. Staff will not be replaced unless they are essential to front line services,” she added. “Out there, jobs are going at a far faster rate that at this council, which has been protected – those in non-jobs will not be replaced".
Rousing words indeed from a TPA perspective, and no doubt this will buoy our activists in the city, but can we rely on these elected members to act on Cllr Stevenson’s sentiments?
Well looking at the council’s jobs webpage today there’s certainly a notable absence of the ominous job titles that the TPA are used to documenting as part of our ‘Non-Job of the Week’ blog. So far so good, but then it’s still very early days for this administration who’ve reportedly set their sites on a 0% council tax rise next year.
Other councils have done it, and it’s great that Wolverhampton are looking to lead by example and trim the unnecessary fat that’s been lurking behind the frontline, costing taxpayers dear and diverting cash from vital services for too long.
We can only encourage the city council to act on their bold statements in the midst of this recession, and hope that in long run, this West Midlands council can set the standard for the rest.