Local authority pensions shocker

Another indispensable report from the Tax Payers’ Alliance’s ‘Local Government Uncovered’ series. This time they’ve gone to the trouble of finding out how much gold plated pension deals for local government employees are costing us.

And here in Bristol the cost of these deals last year was the equivalent to £81 a year for every council tax payer. That’s about 8% of the council tax bill on a Band C property going straight to employees’ pension funds.

Combine this with the TPA’s revelation that £1 in every £11 of council tax is now spent on paying local authority fat cat middle managers earning over £50k a year and you begin to get a pretty good idea of what’s really happening with our money.

The local authority looks less like an organisation delivering public services to us and more like a generous job creation scheme for the benefit of a few. Vast amounts of our money is simply going to local government officers looking after themselves rather than on public services as they’d have us believe.

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27 Responses to Local authority pensions shocker

  1. Mike Hope says:

    Many local authority staff earn buttons. It’s the legions of high earning fat cats in non jobs at whom the poor bloody Council Tax payer should be directing their anger.

  2. Gary Hopkins says:

    Bristol has more than its share of those managers being paid over £50,000 a year (+costs).102 at last count.One of the lLiberal Democrat budget ammendments was to not replace a few of these as they left over the next year (no redundancies),reorganise and spend the money on environmental improvements especially a tree planting programme.
    Many will not be suprised that Lab/Tory voted this down but what amazed me was that the one green Cllr.,who is terribly nice chap, was taken in by the false stories from Lab/tory about people being sacked and choas ensuing and voted against the trees.. You couldn’t make it up!!!
    Part of the reason that Bristol has become so top heavy over the years as when tight budget times come along those providing the recommendation for money savings are the managers. If you do not have Cllrs. prepared to look for alternatives it is the “poor bloody infantry” that get bacon sliced away.

  3. But Gary Hopkins these £50,000+ earners on the council have not suddenly come into existence under the current Lab/Con regime now have they. Can you tell us what action Lib Dems took against this trend when running the city??

    On the issue of reporting how Green Councillor Charlie Bolton voted and why, Cllr Hopkins, you are hardly an objective source with no vested interest! I suggest that as well as considering your spin on this readers also consider the comments of Cllr Bolton himself ( http://charlie-boltons-southville-blog.blogspot.com/2008/02/yesterdays-budget-meeting.html ) and/or look into the detail of this particular vote.

    I can assure you that the instincts of all Greens is to strongly oppose ‘legions of high earning fat cats in non-jobs’, so it looks like there is future valuable work to be done by councillors of all parties on this.

  4. Jon Rogers says:

    Oh dear Vowlsie, what Charlie said was,

    “It seems everyone else but me knew the Tory and Labour would vote against their second tree-amendment.(I was actually swayed by the debate over this one – I went in expecting to vote for trees, but sufficient doubts were raised in me – over exactly which posts go, as to make me rethink)”

    What Gary Hopkins said was,

    “one green Cllr.,who is terribly nice chap, was taken in by the false stories from Lab/tory about people being sacked and choas ensuing and voted against the trees..”

    These two views of the same event (Charlie Bolton voting against trees and for council bureaucracy) don’t seem contradictory to me. Even Cllr Bolton seemed surprised by his own actions!

  5. Poor dear says:

    I seem to remember that one of the first things the Lib Dems did when they took control of the council was to force through a huge pay rise for the top senior officers on the casting vote of Steve Comer. Hopkins is just a hypocrit jumping from band wagon to band wagon – at some point is is going to fall between one and hurt himself

  6. CP says:

    Well done, BB for fearlessly falling for the ploys of a right-wing Tory think tank! They explicitly say that they intend to

    ” change the terms of the political debate on tax – with the link between government spending and waste firmly established in the public’s mind and both main party leaders feeling obliged to at least talk about tax cuts, if not exactly pledge to deliver them.”

    I’d have thought your energies would be better employed campaigning for those without adequate pensions, rather than indulging in rightist libertarian cliches.

  7. Gary Hopkins says:

    There was all party agreement recently to actually raise the advertised pay to get the right chief executive. We did and recruited.(Confidentiality prevents too much detail but it is fair to say that the quality of the applicants was very high.)That is in no way contradictory with thinning out in the 2-3 tiers below that.
    What we actually did was to set up the business transformation programme which is starting to show how the council can achieve better outcomes with less costly staff. Flatter management is a contributer.
    In some cases this will mean more front line staff.
    Quick slash and burn does not work because apart from other problems pay and conditions mean heavy costs of staff redundancy.

  8. sick of these "representatives" says:

    A sterling example of a system without any real meaning of the word democracy in it. Throw congestion charging at us or some other great idea and one day soon people will snap.

    Them and us, its about time “us” fought back.

  9. Charlie Bolton says:

    Gary says

    ‘There was all party agreement recently to actually raise the advertised pay to get the right chief executive’

    That’s funny, I don’t remember either being asked or agreeing to that.

  10. Charlie Bolton says:

    Gary also says

    ‘but what amazed me was that the one green Cllr.,who is terribly nice chap, was taken in by the false stories from Lab/tory about people being sacked and choas ensuing and voted against the trees’

    I am entirely comfortable with the way I voted. It was in no way clear to me that you knew which officer-posts were going to be got rid of, or what criteria were to be used, leading to the prospect of not replacing key posts.

    I used to work for a company which sacked a load of middle managers, realised it was a mistake, and ended up hiring a whole load more (including contract managers), therby ending up spending more than they were in the first place.

    I would not preclude supporting such an amendment in the future, but need to be more confident of the outcome.

    Note to Green Party: see, any way I vote – or even don’t vote – could end up being used against us (or me). Spintastic, huh?

  11. Gary Hopkins says:

    Charlie
    As you know from environment scrutiny chair I have done my best to include you when you were previously not for example in agenda conferences. You are not ,as far as the problematic BCC constitution goes a party. I do not control that and patently the executive drives who is consulted.
    Welcome to the world of political accountability. Whichever way you vote somebody will not like it.
    The savings would not have been put forward without discussion with the new chief exec and the financial officer . The other parties knew that and were play acting . I fully realise that because of inexperience you did not.

  12. thebristolblogger says:

    Well done, BB for fearlessly falling for the ploys of a right-wing Tory think tank!

    CP I’m not straight out the meeting of BCC’s senior officers. I’m not stupid. I’m fully aware who the TPA are. Reading and publishing their primary research doesn’t mean you have to support their agenda. Their research stands alone and is very revealing. It puts meat on to the bones of what a lot of people suspect about our local authority. You might view Bristol City Council as an efficient and value-for-money public service delivery organisation but most people don’t. The TPA provides some of the evidence of why this might be.

    It’s a shame that no one on the left sees the need to look at what’s happening with local authorities. In fact what’s coming out of the left in Bristol is shameful. Was it only last week that Labour leader Helen Holland – put in to power with trade union support and money – was pictured with businessman Bob de Barr announcing she was sending a bus around council estates staffed by her generously super-annuated council officers to recruit people into minimum wage retail jobs in the new Broadmead? What kind of pension arrangements will they be entitled to?

    I’d have thought your energies would be better employed campaigning for those without adequate pensions

    Why should anyone have to when we pay a huge amount of tax and we’ve got a Labour government and a Labour council both funded by trade unions? Aren’t they supposed to provide decent pensions? Oh no they’ve given all the money to local authority middle management instead!

  13. Charlie Bolton says:

    Happy to accept Gary’s comments about including me in PESC agenda conferences etc

  14. Jon Rogers – clearly ‘being swayed by the debate’ (…Bolton) is a world apart from ‘taken in by false stories’ (…Hopkins) except in the world of non-logic you seem to inhabit.

    To put it politely Cllr Gary Hopkins, shall we say ‘departs markedly from straightforward description’ of how Cllr Bolton voted and why . He said ‘terribly nice chap, was taken in by the false stories’ not to accurately describe Cllr Bolton’s thought processess as debate proceeded but instead to spin a story, give a negative impression of the person, and justify himself and his party.

    I know which account, which person and which party I find more trustworthy.

  15. Jon Rogers says:

    I realise that I am as fallible as the next man, but I said that, “these two views of the same event (Charlie Bolton voting against trees and for council bureaucracy) don’t seem contradictory to me.”

    I can well understand how from Charlie’s perspective he was “swayed by the debate” and from Gary’s perspective Charlie was “taken in”. QED

  16. Chris Hutt says:

    “Charlie Bolton voting against trees” – Jon, that sort of cheap jibe really is beneath you.

  17. Jon Rogers says:

    Thanks Chris, this blogging business doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in me!

    So, without short hand… Charlie Bolton voted against investing £200K in a LibDem amendment that called for “More Trees: Reinstate ‘Trees for Bristol’ expansion, 1000s of extra trees, better maintenance of existing trees”.

    Council legal and financial advice was that the amendment was sound, including the proposal to save £300K by “Reduce senior management costs: By freezing vacancies arising from normal turnover.”

  18. Chris Hutt says:

    Yes Jon, but you know as well as anyone that Charlie Bolton isn’t going to be against trees. If he voted against your amendment it obviously wasn’t because he hates trees. So it really is disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise.

    I’m not a Green Party voter, but I think they deserve a more reasoned response to their policies than that. From my recent meeting with you Jon, when I was very impressed, I would have expected better from you. Politics doesn’t have to sink so low.

  19. Paul Smith says:

    The continual Lib Dem sniping at Charlie Bolton on this site is getting very irritating. I don’t and won’t agree with him on every issue but trying to make out that he isn’t really green is just plain silly and pointless.

  20. Jon Rogers says:

    Charlie himself said, ” I went in expecting to vote for trees”.

    I was therefore using his terminology and I don’t think it is “sniping”. He is a Bristol City Councillor and like all of us with that honour, he should be prepared to defend his voting decisions and public pronouncements.

    And my impression is that he is very happy to do just that!

  21. Maybe to Lib Dems ‘debate’ is nothing but a whole series of ‘false stories’…in which case they would of course see no contradiction.

  22. Paul Smith says:

    Okay then Jon, if the lib dems are so into trees why does the latest focus from Steve Comer boast about trees he has had cut down in my area. Just because we have a few tree haters in Stapleton do the lib dems feel they have have to respond. Why also is he pushing forward plans to concrete over large areas of grassland in Stapleton because a few people can’t always park immediately outside their own house (there isn’t really a parking problem here). And why as a councillor with a huge part of the cycle path in his ward is he too busy to think about it? Was he too busy writing letters to the council to get more local trees chopped down while also putting forward an ammendment to the budget that completely contradicts his own actions (according to his own focus leaflet.

    Oh yes and he is supposed to be your leader

  23. sick of these "representatives" says:

    “Yes Jon, but you know as well as anyone that Charlie Bolton isn’t going to be against trees. If he voted against your amendment it obviously wasn’t because he hates trees. So it really is disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise.”

    25,000+ elderly people die each year of not being able to afford to live. not being able to afford to pay for the gas bill.

    women are still, in 2008, disgustingly across the board paid far less than men.

    frenchay hospital is being closed down southmead is going to get pfi’d .

    first bus…..

    record profits for the tossers of canary warf but can we feel these benefits.

    i dont give a fuck if charlie bolton some tosser in the council house doesnt like tree’s or hes married to one. but it doesnt matter what ordinary people give a fuck about our little brains are kept out of those great decision making processes about trees… and other such things. there should be a campaign to get the entirty of the council house fired and have their pensions fucked up like happens to us, hope they enjoy a little taste of reality. democracy now!

  24. redzone says:

    sick of these representatives too!!
    all petty point scoring & sniping instead of getting on with the important issues concerning the welfare of bristol & its citizens.
    no wonder the city is in a downward spiral!!

    20 years of time & money wasted on silly badly thought out schemes & ideas.
    no arena, traffic management at an all time low, disgraceful, overpriced public services, the list is endless.
    yet the council tax still rises & the implication of a congestion charge is in the pipeline!! why?

    the current choices of candidates are all from the same clubs, all puppets & clones, all controlled by the party line. they are all connected in one way or another.
    you only have to check out the members of the local parties, you’ll see all the repetitive names that appear there over the last 20 years, all have been involved & still areto a degree, & all are responsible for demise of our city!!!!!!!

  25. Steve Comer says:

    Paul Smith doesn’t seem to like his neighbours in Stapleton, perhaps its because so few of them agree with him!

    Mind you he’s obviously a graduate of the New Labour school of spin doctoring. He accuses his neighbours and I of being tree haters, just because I supported their wish to have a DEAD tree removed. Well Paul. they were concerned about the safety of children playing in it, and indeed possible injury or damage to their homes in the event of the sort of weather we had last night.

    In the FOCUS leaflet he referred to I’m actually quoted as saying “…we need to see the Council taking more of a lead, working with volunteers to plant more trees, and maintain those we have,” but of course Paul prefers to misquote me out of context.

    Alderman Smith also complains about my support for UWE’s application for a few more parking spaces on their Glenside campus using ecoblock paving. Yet he neglects to point out that these plans were passed with all party support (a Labour Councillor even spoke in favour). He then loftily states that there is no parking problem in the area. He may not have seen older people struggling to get off a bus in the middle Small Lane, because its blocked by commuter cars, but I certainly have.

    Paul is obviously not happy where he lives, so perhaps someone can reccommend a part of Bristol populated by Guardian reading New Labour ‘community workers’ where he might feel more at home.

  26. Paul Smith says:

    Steve

    I am sorry that you have decided to go for such a silly reply and not managed to mention the cyclepath at all.

    I love lots of my neighbours but not those who cut down trees in peoples gardens when they are on holiday, those who continually complain to the city and council and you to get other trees in the area cuts down or the one who lives two streets away and demands I cut my trees down because they interfere with their TV reception – my guess is these are the same people who keep hassling you.

    “they were concerned about the safety of children playing in it”

    This is an argument for cutting down every tree in the Frome Valley, and is every so slightly ridiculous. I don’t know if you have brought up kids in the area, I have and am and want them to learn about safety from exploring not by sanatising their world beyond recognition.

    As for the busses, there are double yellow lines at the stops the answer to illegal parking is enforcement not concreteing green spaces. I actually live here, the parking problem is a fiction. Your desire to have photos for your leaflets is overwhelming your common sense.

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