Chewing over options for the top job
IT’S PROBABLY one of the top jobs in local government but nearly three months since KCC chief executive Peter Gilroy announced his departure, we are still nowhere near knowing who might be replacing him. But Off The Record gathers the wheels are slowly turning and that the reason for the delay is because the ruling Conservative administration at County Hall has been chewing over other options. These included not replacing Mr Gilroy and splitting the job between two people. Both have now been ruled out and a replacement is to be sought. But time is marching on: Mr Gilroy is leaving in early May and anyone appointed will probably have to give at least three months’ notice.
WHICH naturally brings us to how much the successful candidate might be paid. The issue of public sector pay continues to prove contentious, as yet another survey by the scourge of the public sector, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, showed last week. Interestingly, the survey of high earners revealed that 323 earned more than the Prime Minister, whose remuneration is about £194,000. The Conservatives have warned that any public authority that wants to pay a boss more than the PM will have to get the deal signed off by George Osborne, should the Conservatives form the next government. Another reason for KCC to move swiftly, perhaps!
COUNTY Hall in transparency shock! It’s not often we get to deliver a plaudit to any council for openness and accountability but Off The Record feels that a word of praise should be given to KCC’s Audit and Governance Trading Activities Sub Group (what do you mean, you’ve never heard of it?). It is a new committee, with a brief to shine a light on to the authority’s commercial enterprises – or in its own words “to ensure the trading activities of the council are run properly, transparently and fairly”. Unfortunately, members at its most recent meeting were presented with six reports in private but after careful consideration, its threestrong membership decided four should be made public as they did not warrant their classification as exempt. Having read two of them, we couldn’t agree more. They were even duller than most reports that make it to the public part of any council meeting. And that’s saying something.
WE ARE not entirely sure what to make of some figures we’ve received from KCC and Ashford Borough Council about how much it is costing to clean (we use the word advisedly) the town’s shared space scheme. But no one can deny that both have provided very precise figures. Weekly, £281.86 is spent on litter picking, with £433.76 on sweeping paths with a rather more modest £31.22 on road sweeping. That is £835.28 a week. We don’t know who is counting beans on our behalf, but it’s sort of reassuring to know someone is keeping a beady eye on costs. As they say, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.