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West Bridgford
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Council adds £220,000 to salary bill over four years

PUBLISHED:

The party in charge of Ashfield District Council has been accused of creating new paid jobs for its councillors after a controversial decision was approved this week.

In the first cabinet meeting since they took overall control, the Ashfield Independents today added the number of top-paid councillor roles, known as cabinet members, from six to 10.

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This will cost taxpayers an extra £55,000 a year – £220,000 over the course of the administration.

The party, led by Councillor Jason Zadrozny, said it will mean there is more expertise available, and the new jobs have already led to positive results.

But the Labour leader, Councillor Lauren Mitchell, who represents the Hucknall South Ward, said it was “insulting” to taxpayers, and it was “absolutely just jobs for the boys”.

She said: “For a party that claims to be a political party for the people of Ashfield, this move is pretty laughable and a huge insult to all taxpayers across the district.

“This is a huge amount of money which should be being spent on the district, not on politicians, especially at a time when local councils are being so underfunded.

“It’s disappointing, and a massive slap in the face for residents. It’s just ludicrous.”

One of the four new cabinet post holders, Councillor Dave Henigan, who is now responsible for corporate communications, governance and cross portfolio support, said: “Over the last year, Ashfield Independent cabinet members have been working really hard dealing with the enormous challenges that we face.

“This experience has enabled us to remodel the council’s cabinet to make it more effective. If we want to improve our council and services for the public we simply have to have more people working to make these changes.

“For example, we now have a cabinet member for regeneration. This has already led to 1,800 jobs being created in our district which we will be officially announcing soon.

“I won’t take any lessons from Labour who ran our district down over decades through a lack of political leadership and inactivity.”

A spokeswoman for the Ashfield Labour party said: “When the Ashfield Independents took control of Ashfield District Council in 2018, they made a great self-congratulatory fuss of reducing the number of cabinet posts by one place.

“The saving of £9,000, we were told, was an example of how the new administration would be about value for money.

“One year, and one election later, how things have changed! At their first full cabinet meeting, the Ashfield Independents are now raiding council funds to pay themselves a massive £55,000 extra.

“Despite boasting about reducing the former Labour cabinet to six members, it seems that Councillor Zadrozny now cannot cope without a cabinet of 10 members.

“It is the cost of these extra four places that will cost the authority £55,000 which means over the life of the Independents administration, an extra £220,000 of tax-payers money will be lavished on their friends.

“This is money that should be spent improving the lives of Ashfield residents, not the bank balances of Ashfield Independent councillors. Once again, the Independents, under Councillor Zadrozny, are saying one thing during an election and doing the opposite after the election.”

The council declined to comment on the issue.

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