Bristol’s very expensive new broom

Bristol City Council (BCC) is keen to trumpet the departure of five senior managers, each earning £80,000, as part of its efforts, apparently, to ‘become a smaller but more efficient organisation’—but information has been passed to us that these directors will be simply replaced by four new directors each being paid £130,000—fifty grand more! So no saving there at all!

The departing directors of Finance, Major Projects, Education, Communications and Strategic Commissioning have all taken voluntary redundancy and will no doubt receive generous severance payments. But no sooner have they gone, than they will be replaced by four new directors. A sharp-eyed Bristol supporter noted BCC recently advertising for four strategic directors: Strategic Director—Business Change; Strategic Director—Neighbourhoods; Strategic Director—People; Strategic Director—Place. Each of them to be paid £130,909 plus benefits.

Now, presumably these peculiar, new council jargon titles are there to distinguish them from their predecessors, so the council can claim they have cut posts, but in reality they are simply replacing them with new senior managers, so not only is the Bristol taxpayer being expected to pay out hefty redundancy payments to the departing directors but to fork out yet more money for the new ones coming in. As our Bristol supporter puts it: ‘Over half a million for four council workers!! Digraceful!!!’

But what is the purpose of this costly game of musical chairs? Steve Mills, spokesman for Unison in Bristol, claims it is part of the price the local taxpayer is paying for getting a new City Director, Nicola Yates. ‘I don’t think it’s for the benefit of Bristol myself,’ he says. ‘[Yates has] just joined us after receiving a massive payout herself from Hull City Council. She survived and it seems like she wants a very expensive new broom to clean out some of the old officers and get her new people in.’

So, not only does Ms Yates get a generous pay-off from Hull City Council of £242,677, as reported by us, but she walks straight into a new job and gets the local taxpayer to fork out for a whole new management team for her too. Wow, the public purse seems to be bottomless when it comes to attracting ‘talent’ to run our local services…

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