Suffolk’s reputation lies in tatters today

JEREMY Pembroke is one of the most honourable, decent people I have ever come across.

He went into local politics in his home county after a distinguished career in the City, and it is quite clear from all my conversations with him that he is totally motivated by the need to do the right thing and make life as good as possible for the people he serves.

But I’m afraid this week I was left wondering what planet he was living on as he tried to justify the frankly ridiculous fee being proposed for the new press chief at Endeavour House.

Can he and his colleagues really not see that Suffolk County Council has become a national laughing stock because of the salaries it pays its senior officers like Andrea Hill and Jill Rawlins?

Don’t they recognise that when the cabinet minister in charge of local government (from their own political party) describes their latest actions as “reckless” then something is wrong?

When I asked Mr Pembroke earlier this week whether he was concerned about the county’s reputation, he said the council’s reputation was as one of the most efficient authorities in the country.

It may be efficient according to the government indices, but that is not the reputation Suffolk County Council has in the wider community – from Land’s End to Berwick on Tweed.

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Suffolk doesn’t feature in the pages of national newspapers because of its efficiency – it features in them because of its habit, time and again, of paying over the odds for senior staff to lecture the rest of its workforce.

Suffolk doesn’t have a regular slot in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs” column because of its efficiency!

Everything the county has done this week has been cack-handed! Where is the �500,000 savings that the new head of communications is supposed to make coming from?

Is it from the department’s stated budget of �838,000 or the �3.5 million budget that former chief spinner but three Francis Thomas was talking about before he left Suffolk two years ago?

Certainly no one in the authority has told the communications team which is supposed to keep us informed about the county’s work.

But then why should they know? It’s only their jobs, their futures and their lives that are directly affected by what is happening. Apart from anything else this is not a good way to treat staff – whether they are spin doctors or whoever.