Southwark Council has been accused of hypocrisy and insensitivity after increasing the number of paid positions ‘at the top table’ for the following year, despite severe budget cuts.
In the annual Southwark Cabinet re-shuffle last weekend, councillors Michael Situ and Darren Merrill were given their own senior positions, raising the number of cabinet members to ten. They had worked under a ‘job-share’ last year.
With full cabinet members receiving a ‘Special Responsibilities Allowance’ of £34,343, the decision to promote both councillors has been slammed by Southwark Lib Dems.
The group’s leader, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, said: “When 200 council staff are being made redundant this year, it is insensitive in the extreme to be creating new jobs on the Cabinet and increasing their pay bill.
“Labour councillors never tire of telling us about the scale of cuts the council is facing, yet they seem able to find the money for themselves. What kind of message does this send out to staff who are facing some very tough times and an uncertain future?”
Council Leader Peter John responded: “At a time when cuts to local government mean we have to rethink everything we do, it’s essential we have the best people at the helm to lead and support officers.
“I should add that since I became Leader of the Council I have reduced the councillor allowance budget, as value for money is at the heart of what I want to deliver for Southwark.”
The re-shuffle also saw Cllr Stephanie Cryan promoted to the cabinet, replacing outgoing member Cllr Dora Dixon-Fyle who has become the new Mayor of Southwark.
The new Southwark Cabinet members and their responsibilities:
Leader of the Council – Cllr Peter John
Business, Employment and Culture (and Deputy Leader) –Cllr Ian Wingfield
Finance, Modernisation and Performance – Cllr Fiona Colley
Housing – Cllr Richard Livingstone
Regeneration and New Homes – Cllr Mark Williams
Environment and the Public Realm – Cllr Darren Merrill
Public Health, Parks and Leisure – Cllr Barrie Hargrove
Adult Care and Financial Inclusion – Cllr Stephanie Cryan
Children and Schools – Cllr Victoria Mills
Communities and Safety – Cllr Michael Situ