New assistants to ease executive pressures


- Credit: Archant

FIVE North Somerset councillors have been appointed to share the workload of the authority’s executive members.

These new executive assistants will be entitled to an increased allowance, as agreed by an independent body.

Both Cllr Charles Cave, who represents Wraxall and Long Ashton, and Cllr Reyna Knight, who represents Portishead Central, have been promoted into these new roles.

But members of the opposition were unhappy they had not been consulted prior to council leader Nigel Ashton’s announcement at a full council meeting on February 19.

Cllr John Crockford-Hawley described the new positions as a ‘sinecure’ - a position that requires little or no responsibility.

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He said: “It’s rather like the teddy bears’ picnic. You have daddy bear there and mummy bear and all the cubs coming in with their paws and snouts to the honeypots.”

Cllr Mike Bell said if Cllr Ashton was introducing a new way of working, he should have the decency to inform the opposition.

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He said: “It is truly about jobs for the boys. It is about having posts and responsibilities under the patronage of the council leader.”

The costs for the new positions will be kept within current budgets, following previous reductions in the executive by two, a planned reorganisation of scrutiny panels and a proposal for an overall reduction in councillors.

Cllr Ashton said: “Changing needs are requiring more focus on key areas within the council. We need more people involved in decision making.”

Cllr Jeremy Blatchford, a member of the executive, said the move will prove financially prudent.

He said most authorities have two staff to assist in his type of work as executive member for child’s services, while he will only have one in the newly-promoted Lisa Pilgrim.

He said: “I welcome it. I’ve got to the point where I’ve been under an enormous amount of time and health pressures.

“I have an enormous pile of tasks to do so Lisa Pilgrim will be doing very specific work which I would otherwise be doing. They will more than pay for themselves.”

The five new executive assistants are councillors Ann Harley, Dawn Payne, Reyna Knight, Charles Cave and Lisa Pilgrim.

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