SWINDON Council’s Labour group is calling for assurances that a review into the terms and conditions and severance payments for chief officers will be fair on all other staff across the authority.
The cross-party special committee of senior councillors commissioned the review in December after agreeing a redundancy package for Hitesh Patel, the board director for transformation and strategic projects.
Coun Rod Bluh, the council leader, admitted the payment would be regarded as high but the council is keeping the level secret until Mr Patel has left the organisation at the end of March. Senior officers, such as directors and the chief executive, Gavin Jones, have different terms and conditions to other officers.
The special committee commissioned the review, as Coun Bluh said such figures would not be affordable in the future.
But the Labour group is seeking assurances that senior officers will not have more favourable terms and conditions and redundancy payments than lower-level council staff. Coun Julian Price (Lab, Covingham and Dorcan), who is proposing the motion at Thursday’s full council meeting, said: “This motion is about making sure that the council is being fair to all council staff through their terms and conditions.
“Of course we believe senior managers and directors warrant higher levels of wage because of their additional responsibilities.
“But when it comes to contractual terms and conditions, like redundancy payments and bonuses, we believe everyone should be playing by the same set of rules.
“The special committee agreed that the contractual terms and conditions of existing and future directors will be under review and Labour supports this review taking place.
“It would be fair to say that Swindon isn’t different to any other local authority regarding senior management contractual terms and conditions and it is the councillors who have let this situation arise in Swindon. “However, just because other local councils do it doesn’t make it right and we believe public opinion will side with us on this issue”
Coun David Renard, the deputy council leader, said it was a “non-motion” as the special committee, a microcosm of full council, had already agreed to the review, so it was either political point-scoring or the members bringing the motion did not have faith in the Labour leadership.
He said: “It was agreed we would review those terms and conditions to see if they’re still appropriate in the new political and financial environment we find ourselves in. “It needs a group of people to look at those terms and conditions and say whether any changes should be made.”
Coun Stan Pajak, the Lib Dem group leader, said he was happy with the motion on the basis that all council staff should be treated fairly and equally.