‘Eye-wa­ter­ing’ sum af­ter two-and-a-half years’ work at city HQ DI Co-leader praises former me­dia chief’s im­pact on North-east

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - By Adele Mer­son po­lit­i­cal re­porter

A FORMER coun­cil spin doc­tor re­ceived a pay-off of more than £63,000, the Even­ing Ex­press can re­veal to­day.

Fig­ures show Takki Su­laiman, the lo­cal au­thor­ity’s former head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pro­mo­tion, re­ceived a to­tal of £63,488 in com­pen­sa­tion af­ter los­ing his job in May 2017. He had been in the post for two-and-a-half years.

The fig­ures, re­leased by the Tax­pay­ers Al­liance, also show Mr Su­laiman – who was known as the “hap­pi­ness tsar” – re­ceived a salary of £80,697 for the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year

– a to­tal cost to the tax­payer of £144,185, ex­clud­ing pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions.

John O’con­nell, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Tax­pay­ers Al­liance, said: “Aberdeen tax­pay­ers should be fu­ri­ous at Mr Su­laiman’s £63,000 pay-off, equiv­a­lent to al­most 80% of his salary in 2016/17. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties do not need an army of over­paid press of­fi­cers.

“Aberdeen City Coun­cil should spend tax­pay­ers’ money on res­i­dents, not mas­sag­ing their im­age.”

The former Labour coun­cil­lor worked in com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the scan­dal-hit Tower Ham­lets Coun­cil in Lon­don be­fore be­ing an­nounced as the pre­ferred can­di­date for the Gran­ite City job in Novem­ber 2014.

At the time the ap­point­ment was crit­i­cised by op­po­si­tion SNP and Lib­eral Democrats over Mr Su­laiman’s pre­vi­ous role as a Labour coun­cil­lor for Haringey.

THEN-SNP group leader Cal­lum Mccaig called for the ap­point­ment process to be halted pend­ing an in­quiry, claim­ing Mr Su­laiman’s CV did not men­tion the Labour role and mem­bers of the panel that gave him the job were not in­formed.

The then-fi­nance con­vener, Labour’s Willie Young, in­sisted the au­thor­ity’s hu­man

Do not need an army of over­paid press of­fi­cers

re­sources team had been told.

Cur­rent SNP group leader Stephen Flynn to­day hit out at the pay-off.

He said: “The ad­min­is­tra­tion were told that the coun­cil did not need a spin doc­tor but they pushed ahead and the cost, borne by the peo­ple of Aberdeen, is eye-wa­ter­ing.

“Their reck­less­ness when it comes to spend­ing pub­lic money knows no bounds and this failed spin doc­tor ex­per­i­ment is sadly just the tip of the ice­berg.”

Aberdeen City Coun­cil co-leader, Labour’s Jenny Laing, said: “It ap­pears Coun­cil­lor Flynn has a short mem­ory as his bud­get for 2016/17 in­cluded the rev­enue sav­ings for the dele­tion of Mr Su­laiman’s post.

“Al­though Mr Su­laiman’s stay with the coun­cil was short he did help cre­ate the suc­cess­ful 365 project which has brought for­ward the Great Aberdeen Run, Tour Cy­cle race and Nuart which have all con­trib­uted to the cul­tural of­fer­ing of Aberdeen.”

An Aberdeen City Coun­cil spokesman said: “Mr Su­laiman’s pay­ment was based on con­trac­tual and statu­tory en­ti­tle­ments.

“We can­not com­ment fur­ther on what is an in­di­vid­ual staffing mat­ter.”

A to­tal of seven in­di­vid­u­als at the lo­cal au­thor­ity – in­clud­ing Mr Su­laiman – re­ceived to­tal re­mu­ner­a­tion of more than £100,000.

Mr Su­laiman, who now runs a self-cater­ing prop­erty on the shores of Loch Awe on the west coast, did not re­spond to the Even­ing Ex­press’ re­quests for com­ment.

Events: Mr Su­laiman brought for­ward events such as the Tour Cy­cle Race.

Re­vealed: The coun­cil spent £63k in spin doc­tor’s pay off.

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