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Councillors clash over Burntwood Town Council’s failure to appoint new chief officer

Councillors have clashed over the failure to appoint a new chief officer at Burntwood Town Council.

The Old Mining College Centre

Burntwood Town Council’s offices at the Old Mining College Centre

The local authority has been without anyone in the role for over a year after the previous incumbent left.

An interim officer has been in the post in the meantime, but the Labour opposition group has criticised the Conservative leadership after a personnel committee meeting to discuss a long-term solution to the issue was cancelled.

Cllr Sharon Banevicius

Cllr Sharon Banevicius

The group’s deputy leader, Cllr Sharon Banevicius, said: “What a complete shambles again.

“Attendance at personnel committee meetings has been poor, but the meeting on 6th November was cancelled as three Conservative members, including the leader and deputy leader, submitted apologies.

“We just cannot move forward without proper staffing.”

The council did try a few months ago to appoint a part-time clerk to replace the £55,000-a-year post occupied by the previous incumbent, but failed to find a suitable applicant.

Cllr Banevicius added: “The Labour councillors warned that without a full-time chief officer, we were unlikely to be able to move forward on projects for the benefit of the town.

“We also need someone at the helm who is committed to Burntwood and development for the community and has the time and capacity to drive ideas forward.

“Instead we’ve got a do-nothing council with no real drive or imagination, which is holding us all back.”

“Snail pace”

Cllr Di Evans, leader of the Labour opposition group said the delays brought about by the Conservative group had led to frustration on projects where improvements could be made in the town.

“Whether it’s the Neighbourhood Plan or management of the Old Mining College, nothing moves forward at any pace but snail pace,” she said.

“For example, we proposed that the town council should take responsibility for filling grit bins, an important service that the county council will be reducing to one fill per year. The Conservative group said yes initially, but have now kicked it into the long grass.

“We also suggested ways in which community use of the Old Mining College Centre should be improved, but, yet again, ideas have been shelved.

“It’s simply not good enough for us councillors who are itching to get on with things and certainly not for our town and its residents.”

“Absolute nonsense”

Cllr Doug Pullen

Cllr Doug Pullen

But Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the Conservative-controlled council said it was “political posturing” by Labour councillors that was slowing down progress.

“Members of the Labour group suggested delaying the hiring of a permanent town clerk until 2019, so this statement is absolute nonsense,” he said.

“I don’t want a re-run of mistakes made by previous administrations and I am more than happy to take as long as needed to recruit a quality, reasonably-paid Town Clerk who’s pay-grade is in line with their ability.

“Labour attempt to slam us for having ‘no imagination’ and then put their grand idea of filling the grit bins – an idea which was explored, but subsequently found to be prohibitively expensive.

“If anything slows us down, it is this inane political posturing by councillors who, quite frankly, ought to know better.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to deliver for our community – while freezing council tax, providing hundreds of hours of free events for local families, providing grants to local community groups, supporting local businesses and maintaining our local burial ground and other local amenities.”

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3 Comments

  1. John Griffin

    13th November, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    “Continue to deliver'”……Cllr Pullen, what planet are you on? As a member of the Party, and a participator, in the farce of provision for Burntwood perpetuated at District and Town level, you have no shame and like your colleagues, contempt for Burntwood. I’ll start with attendance figures at District and seemingly Town level.

  2. Rob

    13th November, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    So we haven’t had a chief officer for over a year and hardly anyone noticed.

  3. Cllr Rob Birch

    14th November, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Cllr Pullen has an interesting view on how someone should be paid. It is somewhat unusual to give someone a “pay-grade in line with their ability” for a job such as this. The normal and accepted practice would be to set a clear role profile and offer remuneration to reflect the levels of responsibility and ensure the job is attractive to someone with the right skills and drive. You pay the going rate for the job, not just get someone you like and then pay them according to their ability.

    Interesting to note that the job was initially advertised as part time after the suggestion was made by Councillor Bacon. After the failure to recruit, the same Councillor Bacon then asked why it was part time as it makes it unattractive? Cllr Pullen would know all this if he attended the meetings of the council, either on time or in some cases at all, when these things are discussed.

    As I was the Councillor who raised the subject of BTC taking on refilling of the grit bins, after much representation from ward members, maybe Cllr Pullen could tell us in more detail how much it will cost as no figures have ever been presented to Council for us to consider. It might after all be a more useful investment in public safety over the winter months than keeping the savings he has previously boasted about locked away in a bank account awaiting the next one day play in the parks event. The Council is there to provide services and to look after community safety last time I looked and not there to spent hand over fist to provide entertainment events for the local populace.

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