Shropshire Star

Leader - The council gravy train at full steam

If you are having no luck in winning the lottery, there is a lucrative alternative – land yourself a top job on a council.


If you are having no luck in winning the lottery, there is a lucrative alternative – land yourself a top job on a council.

The successful candidate in the newly-created post of head of children's and family services at Telford & Wrekin Council will get a salary of £109,000-a-year.

On top of that there are all the other benefits which come with a position at a local authority.

Councils love to justify high salaries by making some sort of comparison with the private sector. That works both ways.

Currently, outside the council bubble economy, the private sector is feeling the full force of the harsh winds of austerity. Pay is being frozen, jobs are being lost, and cutbacks are being made.

It is hard to believe that in the current climate a six-figure sum is necessary to attract somebody motivated to help children and young people. It would be illuminating to see how the figure is arrived at, apart from it being some sort of going rate agreed by councils.

The twists and turns leading to the new post are interesting. For a while, in a move to cut costs, the council chief executive Victor Brownlees doubled up on roles and became the borough's children's champion. The roof did not fall in.

Then with the incoming Labour administration, Mr Brownlees' £149,000-a-year post was made redundant, and Victor walked off into the sunset with a £125,000 golden handshake.

If Telford & Wrekin is offering itself as a model of efficiency and cost-saving, it would be better served blazing a trail for public sector prudency.

As thousands of state workers take to the streets to protest about their pay, conditions and job prospects today, they might take time to ponder how different their situation would be if councils observed the harsh realities of the wider economy.

Zoe in sync with Simon:

Say what you like about Simon Cowell and the tales about his talent shows allegedly falling out of favour, but he is a man with the magic touch when it comes to tapping into the popular mood.

Whether it is dancing dogs or stirring opera, once the act has gone through the Cowell machinery to be infused with added lustre, it suddenly becomes flavour of the month.

BGT has served up weird and wonderful acts, and into the latter category falls that of Shropshire's Zoe Cooper and her Aquabatique colleagues.

Synchronised swimming may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it demands discipline and dedication. Tonight Zoe will aim to impress the nation and be carried on a tide of votes to book her place in the final.

It is not exactly the easiest act to stage, and it is offbeat and different, so don't hold your breath.

But do wish Zoe and her colleagues every bit of luck as they get ready to take the plunge and embark on the path to an unusual form of stardom.

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