Council CEO Joyce White
NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
West Dunbartonshire Council’s management reshuffle has resulted in half a dozen managers receiving a salary boost of £6,000 a year each.
Forget about recent threats of a public sector pay freeze and all those worked off their feet frontline workers and stressed out care workers looking after the sick and dying during this current coronavirus pandemic.
They can go out singing carols if they want some extra cash this Christmas.
However, the council managers, who are sitting comfortably at home with their laptops on their knee while running their departments, are not about to look penury in the eye this Christmas – no chance of that happening.
Management pay is a delegated function and that means that the council’s Chief Executive Joyce White does not have to consult the elected members about who lands the good jobs and how much they are going to be paid for doing them.
Membership of this so-called Golden Circle are permitted to cross its threshold only on the say so of the Chief Executive.
Some of these managers will already be accustomed to living high off the hog, of course.
Those are the ones who went wining and dining with a contractor last year at a time when the council procurement rules were suspended.
Procurement involves the awarding of lucrative contracts and purchase of supplies.
We have seen how easily abused that system can be with the revelations of the £millions paid out to suppliers and middle men for PPE, gowns, gloves and masks, during this Covid crisis.
It was small beer for our guys though. T-bone steaks, double portions of monkfish and other delicacies washed down with jeroboams of champagne and Spanish red Rioja, they sat themselves down to in the fine dining rooms of some very nice restaurants and hotels.
They must have been glad to get their feet up after a round on the fairways and manicured greens of the best golf courses on lovely Loch Lomondside.
The Council do not talk to The Democrat, of course, on the grounds that we do not suffer fools gladly and occasionally lose our temper with them, but just a little bit.
We were unable to ask them how all this came about and who made the rules about delegating these appointments and setting the Santa-type salaries.
They don’t think the public who are forking out council tax for second rate services which have been cut to the bone not because members of the workforce are incompetent but because the SNP administration are hopeless and their leader appears to relish making service cuts and ordering redundancies.
Council Leader Jonathan McColl and Cllr Marie McNair with some of the road teams that will be keeping West Dunbartonshire moving this winter.
There’s another question which we would ask if we thought we might receive a non obfusatory answer.
It’s seasonal and follows the daft decision to give all the gritters in the snow clearing work and ice salting operation “comic” names.
Are council officers still being paid bonuses amounting to thousands of pounds for lifting the telephone when they notice it’s becoming colder or that there’s snow beginning to fall on the Long Crags?
A few years ago these officers were paid thousands of pounds in error and the cash went into their bank accounts.
That money was never returned to the council though. Has it ever come back out of those bank accounts? Is the council still pursuing the matter in an attempt to get our money back? They should be. I think the public should be told.
And finally is this old Spanish custom and others like it still going on in West Dunbartonshire?
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t have much respect for the frontline staff who have worked themselves to exhaustion during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
If she did she would not be making the shameful attempt to bribe them which she did at the annual SNP’ annual party conference at the weekend.
Let’s hope these heroes tell Ms Sturgeon, what to do with her £500 offer. An offer which she would have to take to Westminster and ask Boris Johnston and Rishy Sunak to make the money tax free.
Had she done the right thing, Nicola would be doing what she promised to do and give everyone working in this crisis a pay rise, which would accrue to them for the rest of their time in the job and enhance their pension when the day comes for their well-deserved retirement.
It’s much the same with her free school dinners bribe. Vote for Nicola and you will get something to eat. If you don’t, you won’t.
It’s not a new strategy. They used to call it proselytising. That was when missionaries offered plates of soup to starving people during Famine times in return for them joining their religion.