HDC severance: are we paying twice?

WHEN one votes for a Conservative administration, one is voting (hopefully) for an efficient economic organisation as opposed to one that reflects the needs of the staff rather than the customer (the rate-payer), which the other two main parties prioritise.

Unfortunately, this does not happen with Huntingdonshire District Council, as this latest farce of cuts demonstrates.

It was clear to everyone two years ago that cuts would have to be made, but what did HDC do? Very little.

It carried on paying annual increases to the office staff, which reflected not only inflation (which those in the private sector were lucky if they received) but also performance-related pay, averaging two per cent.

How much would that have saved if the council had acted as true Conservatives and introduced a pay freeze at that time instead of two years later when it has been imposed on them by central Government.

How many posts have been filled in those two years when it was clear to anyone with half a brain that redundancies would eventually become necessary?

Now, to compound the felony, the district council taxpayers will be paying large sums of money to senior staff who were proposing to retire in any case in the next 12 months. Most local authority staff, especially the senior ones, opt to do this when they reach the age of 60.

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The chief executive, as all councillors should know, received at the beginning of this year a large sum of money for organising the General Election (despite the fact that virtually all this work is undertaken by other council-paid staff).

Because the local government pension scheme is based on the final year’s salary, it is in his interest to retire in this year rather than next when the election money will not increase his pension.

By retiring early not only will he increase his pension by many thousands of pounds per annum for the rest of his life, but you and I will be giving him an additional redundancy package of close to �200,000. It was well known by most senior staff as well as many people connected with the council (indeed I spoke to two prominent councillors before the General Election on this issue) that Mr Monks would be retiring before the end of March 2011, so why is he now to receive a redundancy package for something that he would have been doing in any case?

The same argument will apply to many of the other senior staff who will volunteer to go. These enhanced redundancy packages are unnecessary and an insult to the Council Tax payers.

DAVID ASHWORTH

Berry Lane

Godmanchester

Editor’s note: Casual earnings such as those relating to elections do not count in the reckoning for either redundancy or pension.

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