Senior council jobs should be merged, says opposition

NORTH Somerset Council could save thousands of pounds by combining two of its most senior positions, opposition councillors have claimed.

The calls to merge the positions of chief executive and director of finance and resource came from the group leaders of both the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties in the district.

With his salary currently standing at �144,817, chief exec Graham Turner currently earns �2,000 more than Prime Minister David Cameron, while finance director Phil Hall is on a salary of �104,634.

Lib Dem councillor Mike Bell said the cuts would show the authority meant business in identifying areas to swing the axe on.

He said: “Obviously in a time when we need to find savings, one way that we could do so is by merging these two management positions.

“The authority will have to make some difficult decisions and we (the Lib Dems) have previously called for these posts to be merged, saving more than �100,000 a year.

“At the very least, Mr Turner should offer to take a pay cut and pledge to freeze his own pay for the duration of this council.”

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Agreeing, Labour leader Cllr Richard Tucker said: “Most other unitary and district councils are looking to reduce their number of high salaried management posts and I don’t see why North Somerset should be any exception.

“I am aware South Gloucestershire has looked to merge its chief executive and finance director posts and places like South Somerset and East Devon are now sharing a chief executive.”

But Cllr Tony Lake, the authority’s executive member for finance, said merging the roles was unlikely to happen.

He said: “The current leadership of the council at both political and officer level has delivered massive savings and current budget proposals for 2011/12 have identified a further �18million in savings.

“If the roles of CEO and director of finance and resources were combined there could be redundancy package implications and an additional potential strain on the pension fund.”

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