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Monday, 13 December 2010

"We will either find a way, or make one." - Hannibal

Now this council, the Royally Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea prides itself on being transparent. After all, As a public service organisation we are committed to transparency in all our dealings and these are not Hornet's words. You can read them yourself here.

Decision making in the borough is in the hands of the Dear Leader and those he grants a seat in his gravy train, called Cabinet. The rest of the crew are supposed to go to scrutiny meetings and chat about the decisions that have been, and to er, press and probe, question and query so that it keeps the Cabinet on their toes. Ahem.

So what possibly could those at the top of the tree do to ensure they get a smooth ride? Simple, pay them off of course!

Hornet has already reported that the Dear Leader Sir Merrick Sir Cockle of Philbeach receives from RBKC the handsome booty of about £65,000 per year. Not bad, when you consider his own foray into business previous to his time at the helm was a cigarette company exporting to Africa, that failed.

Over 30 of the councillors are on the payroll of the Leader, being granted additional allowances on top of the £10,500 they all get anyway. They each have titles like Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, or Lead Member for Libraries, Chairman of this that or the other, or Majority Spokesman for Health.

Who decides who gets what role? The political leadership of course, so it is fair to say that the best person for the job may not necessarily be the one who gets the role. You have to toe the party line and of course dare not speak out against the Dear Leader or his grand designs. The opposition have a couple of seats on the gravy train too so are hardly innocent!

In the "real world" employees are given contracts of employment, and in most cases this includes a job description. This is a list that a person might use for general tasks, or functions, and responsibilities of a position. It often includes specifications such as the qualifications or skills needed by the person in the job, and a salary range.

Now councillors are not exactly employees, they are given this position by permission of the electorate, and are answerable to them. In other words, the electorate hire councillors on four year contracts, and we the voters make blind judgements as to their abilities to perform their functions given to them by the political leadership.

But the people of the borough need to wake up and start to scrunitise the payroll of councillors, and ask the question what on earth is going on?

Why do we have a Cabinet Member for Corporate Services (receiving £45k),  a Chairman of Corporate Services Committee (£30k) a Majority Spokesman for Corporate Services (£15k) and a Lead Member for Corporate Services (£15k).

Why?

The salary band for Deputy Leader says £34,780-£41,262,  and the Deputy Leader receives £41,262, the highest amount possible. Why? Who decides where in the banding and on what basis? If the report in the Evening Standard was correct, the Deputy Leader isnt exactly the first choice most people would want to be trapped in a lift with, so what qualifies him to be paid at the top of the banding?

The salary band for Cabinet Member for Housing, Adult Social Care, Public and Environmental Health is the same, £34,780-£41,262, but she receives £35,048 slightly above the lower end. Why?

Now Hornet isn't advocating Councillors receive more money, nor is she saying they should receive less, what she is  saying is that the voters of K&C are entitled to be told on what basis the councillors are anointed with these allowances, justification for the salary level, and handed the benchmarks to assess it.

Every anointed councillor should have, open to public inspection, a full job description not these wishy washy statements published currently that are simple political posturing. We should be able to see exactly what the councillors roles are, set down with measurable criteria, realistic objectives and crucially what qualifies the current post holders to do the job. Just like everyone in the "real world" does.

And this, dear reader, is a mission of Hornet in 2011, to bring to account the council and the allowance systems - one way or the other.

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