Scorn poured on Suffolk claims

SUFFOLK chiefs have come in for criticism after claiming a single authority for the county will save money on overheads because smaller organisations may pay “above the odds” for top bosses.

SUFFOLK chiefs have come in for criticism after claiming a single authority for the county will save money on overheads because smaller organisations may pay “above the odds” for top bosses.

The statement comes on the back of the controversial appointment of new chief executive at Suffolk County Council Andrea Hill who, on a salary of £220,000, earns £70,000 more than her predecessor Mike More.

A report responding to questions posed by the Boundary Committee in relation to the proposed shake-up of local government argues that a single Suffolk unitary is the most affordable option.

One section reads: “Smaller unitaries would struggle to attract skilled staff, particularly in areas of skills shortage such as major procurement and planning. They would lack the ability to manage peaks and troughs.


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“Experience elsewhere suggests that they would pay above the odds to attract high-quality chief officers, and that there would be a local bidding war for other highly-skilled staff.”

The statement has come in for criticism.

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Andrew Cann, deputy leader of the county council's Lib Dem group, said: “It seems frankly hypocritical for the county council to be arguing against other unitary authorities on the grounds of escalating salary levels when it has just set the highest benchmark for any public body in the Eastern region.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Suffolk County Council always takes account of the market rate for posts when looking to fill vacancies.

“The One Suffolk response to the Boundary Committee refers to a possible skills shortage if Suffolk was divided up into smaller authorities.

“The new smaller unitaries could struggle to attract skilled staff and this would lead to having to pay 'over the odds' to attract high-quality staff.”

The Boundary Committee has been tasked by central government with looking at other possibilities for revamping council structures across Suffolk following the dramatic collapse of Ipswich's unitary bid last year.

As a result Suffolk County Council and Suffolk's seven district authorities all face the possibility of abolition.

Draft proposals, which will be made public on Monday July 7, could include a “greater” Ipswich unitary authority, a cross-border council such as a combined Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft authority, and an east/west county split.

What shape would you like to see Suffolk take? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

July 7 - draft findings published

July 7 - public consultation begins

December 31 - final recommendations to be made to government

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