Shambolic Stoke-on-Trent City Council are now having to hire in a specialist corporate fraud team to monitor the council’s dealings with outside organisations and businesses, according to today’s The Sentinel.
As we’ve often suspected, this council couldn’t run a whelk stall, and the paper claims these ‘fraud busters’ have been drafted in as part of tighter controls now elected mayor Mark Meredith and ex-Conservative and Independent Alliance leader Roger Ibbs are on bail facing allegations of corruption within the authority.
The outrageous spending and blatant mismanagement of this council, often picked up on this website, has now well and truly come to a head and – you guessed it – taxpayers will be stumping up whatever it costs to turn Stoke into a viable local government. Who’d be surprised if this ran into hundreds of thousands? Not Stoke’s ratepayers, that’s for sure!
In the meantime, far from cutting back, the authority are advertising for no fewer than 8 top officers to join their team, with salaries totalling £680,000 (The Sentinel) due to a mass exodus of staff following both the corruption debacle and the creation of the new Cheshire West and Chester Council where four of the former post holders have followed Steve Robinson, the former Chief Executive.
Robinson’s post will also be up for grabs once legal proceedings end, and with the salary to be advertised at £195k there will be no shortage of applicants – especially given the current recession!
The Sentinel does not know how much is being paid to London-based Penna Executive Recruitment to advertise these jobs, but it seems pretty clear that little time, effort or conscience has gone into assessing whether these posts are 100% vital and – even if they are – if they warrant the huge salaries on offer.
Deputy City Independent group leader, Cllr Brian Ward shared his doubts with the newspaper:
"We seem to be creating new jobs on top of the vacancies and I'm concerned that the new directorates don't seem to be focused enough. I wonder whether all these highly-paid jobs will give us the results that we want."
Accusations of corruption, special fraud teams needed to scrutinize procedures, top level staff throwing in the towel, questionably high salaries to lure new officers and a 3.95% council tax rise. I would include the link to the Stoke-on-Trent Anthem, the brainchild of the city council (of course!), but they appear to have taken it down from their website…it was named ‘Moving Forward Together’ and in the case of these officers it certainly seems to be true – to a completely different council!