A CONTROVERSIAL £85,000 job to assist Cleveland's Police & Crime Commissioner has been branded a "waste of money" by a local MP.

A full-time vacancy for a ‘Chief of Staff’ has been posted on its website with duties including strategic leadership, support and the ability to provide advice across a range of functions.

Barry Coppinger, Cleveland Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), has defended the advert, saying the salary was competitive to attract the best candidates.

Loading article content

However, James Wharton, MP for Stockton South, said that in a climate of cuts to frontline staff, the generous salary was the equivalent to three police officers.

Jobseekers have until Thursday, February 27, to apply for the job after the year-long secondment of current chief of staff Ed Chicken came to an end.

Mr Wharton criticised Mr Coppinger, who earns £70,000 a year, for retaining the post.

“Mr Coppinger complains that Cleveland Police is short of money but is now appointing a chief of staff on £85,000 plus pension to manage a small office of 12, that money could pay for three police officers.”

In December Mr Coppinger said the Government was denying £84m of grants to support local policing and reducing Cleveland's grant by £4.5m for 2014-15, meaning a 25 per cent cut in the Government grant over the past four years, with more to come.

He retorted to criticism about the appointment, saying that chief of staff role had a broader range of responsibilities than previous police authority roles and combined the job of monitoring officer, which was a legal requirement.

“To attract the right people the salary has to be competitive – this is the same in many public and private sector organisations and is in line with what other chief executives in other PCC offices are being paid,” he added.