Recruitment of the controversial consultant-style managers being brought in to run the “Luton Excellence” project has been put on hold by Liberal Democrat Councillors, after Labour tried to sneak through three extra posts. If a report last week had been agreed, the team, widely known as the Secret Seven, would have grown to ten full time staff.
The attempt to expand the team was hidden in a job description for a Programme Manager who will earn £80,000 a year if a recommended rise of £28,000 a year is agreed. Eight staff (4 Project Managers, 4 Business Process re-engineers) would report to this Manager, with a separate Change & Communications Manager making a total of ten. The combined salaries of such a team could reach £700,000 a year – double the original estimate.
Lib Dem councillors Peter Chapman and Roy Davies questioned the savings needing to be found just to keep paying the team’s salaries when an initial £1 million thrown at the scheme runs out. They refused to back the report, and used a constitutional move to put the decision on hold. The whole Council will now need to agree any extra posts or pay rises. Insiders believe Labour may call a special meeting as early as this month, to push the team through.
Councillor Peter Chapman says: “The prospect of spending a million pounds so a team of ten highly paid people can make cuts across the Council in order to pay their own salaries for another 18 months is just ridiculous. That’s not efficiency, it’s lunacy as far as residents and Council tax payers are concerned. We won’t let this one go.”
Councillor Roy Davies comments: “Labour councillors were happy to nod through three more Excellence posts without thinking how this would suck up any savings achieved. The Secret Seven is quite enough, we don’t need a Titanic Ten.”
“By hiding this in a job description, they hoped no-one would notice. Well they don’t get past us so easily. Now they have to come to the Council chamber and say openly how many consultant jobs they want and what the ever rising bill now comes to.”