AN MP has blasted local government reorganisation saying it is wrong that the new chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council will earn almost as much as the Prime Minister.
Mike Hall, MP for Weaver Vale, has changed his mind over abolishing Cheshire’s existing councils and replacing them with just two authorities governing East and West Cheshire from April 1.
Speaking in parliament, Mr Hall said: “One of the first things that the new Cheshire West and Chester shadow unitary authority did was advertise for a new chief executive with a salary of £173,000 – as close as it is possible to get to the Prime Minister’s salary, although the two jobs are significantly different.
“I have a local government background and do not object to local government officials being paid the rate for the job; I just do not think that £173,000 is such a rate – it is far too much.”
Mr Hall said it was also wrong new councillors would be able to claim special responsibility allowances for additional roles. He claimed it was tradition in local government that if a person was entitled to more than one such payment, they take the highest but not the second or third.
Mr Hall is also annoyed there will continue to be a two-tier refuse collection service, with Chester residents’ bins emptied once a week while residents in the current Vale Royal area will only get a fortnightly collection, as at present.
“I was also very much in favour of unitary local government, because I thought that it would bring service delivery closer to communities and improve services, but I have been proved wrong again,” said Mr Hall, who has discovered that it only costs an extra 9p per household each week to have a weekly collection.
“If it is right for there to be weekly collection in one part of the new authority, it should be right in another.”
Mr Hall is also concerned the shadow unitary authority has decided to cut the number of area committees which are supposed to create a closer link between the council and its communities.
“The purpose of bringing democracy closer to people was that there would be those area boards. The three towns in Vale Royal – Frodsham, Northwich and Winsford – are being put into rural area boards, when they should have boards of their own.”
Mr Hall said he only wished his late colleague and friend Gwyneth Dunwoody, former MP for Crewe and Nantwich, was around to hear him “eat humble pie”.
He said: “Gwyneth made a powerful – and, I thought, misguided – speech about why she opposed it, and I spent some of my time telling her why I thought she was wrong. It may turn out Gwyneth was far more right than me…”