The non-job of the week, from Trafford Council:
“Communications and Engagement Officer
£33,291 - £35,852
Trafford Council, in Greater Manchester, wants to listen to its communities. Come and help us!
We’re looking for an experienced Communications and Engagement Officer to manage the communications unit, based at Trafford Town Hall. Qualified to degree level, our engagement officer will have a wealth of experience in a market research/consultation field, as they will be leading the council’s engagement work and co-ordinating engagement with the Trafford Partnership. You will be customer-focused and a strong team leader.
Trafford is a three star ‘improving strongly’ council, the home of Manchester United and Lancashire Cricket Club. We’re a friendly bunch and truly committed to community engagement. Come and join us.”
The breakdown – at least in theory – in our Town Halls is meant to be as follows – councillors are the elected representatives tasked to engage with their constituents, while the officers are the civil servants there to implement councillor policies.
That would be the best practice, fitting in with democratic principles and enforcing a streamlined public sector to deliver what the electorate voted for in the quickest time and at the lowest cost. Yet, this non-job highlights the fundamental problem in local government.
Officer over-reach. Political parties and their elected councillors are expected to regularly consult, engage and canvass the electorate. Surgeries allow individuals at a regular, fixed time to redress their grievances. Trafford’s Councillors are awarded an allowance of £5,980 a year. The Leader gets £23,920, the cabinet getting £11,959 both on top of the basic allowance. But it seems with this job the officer corps are looking to stand in where the councillors should have responsibility - as in informing the public. Surely they have the nous, time and – not that this is something we’re advocating – money to get their message out, making the communications job redundant?