A COUNCIL has come under fire after it emerged proposals to axe a single senior management post would save £175,000 a year.
Durham County Council, facing nearly £190m of cuts between 2010 and 2017, is set to trim its top team from seven to six, saving £140,000 a year in pay and £35,000 in other costs, including national insurance.
Opposition Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes said for seven directors to be costing more than £1.3m was an insult to residents, County Hall was “top heavy”, more pruning was possible and it needed to happen sooner rather than later in order to protect frontline services.
Simon Henig, the council’s Labour leader, said he accepted there was a debate to be had about pay, but senior management salaries had been set in 2008 by a committee including Lib Dems.
He added: “We have to remember, amid the huge and unprecedented funding cuts by the Conservatives and Lib Dems, the council is a £1bnplus- a-year organisation.
“It needs some management.
The kinds of proposals by [Communities Secretary] Eric Pickles and Mark Wilkes to slash management are just not tenable.”
Aiming to reduce its management costs by 30 per cent between last year and 2015, the council has so far cut proportionately twice as many senior managers as other posts, saving nearly £500,000 a year.
The latest proposal is to merge the Adults, Well-being and Health (AWH) department with Children and Young People’s Services (CYPS) – a move already made by some other councils.
David Williams, corporate director of CYPS, has expressed an interest in early retirement or voluntary redundancy.
The current head of AWH is Rachael Shimmin. Both are paid £140,000 a year.
The shake-up, which also involves moving arts and culture services to the Neighbourhood Services depart- ment, is set to be agreed by a full council meeting next Wednesday.
The head of the new “super-department” could be appointed in May. They would then be asked to find further savings by August.
The council’s chief executive, George Garlick, is paid £200,000 a year.
A council spokeswoman said a 2009 reorganisation under which district councils were abolished saved £3.65m in management costs.