LBC radio picked up the reports in the Bexley press about the petition against council salaries and asked John Watson, Chairman of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group (second from left), if he would be willing to speak to their presenter Nick Ferrari on his morning programme. The interview took place on 30th September 2011 and Nick began it by saying he had researched the subject and found that the number of local authority employees on salaries in excess of £100,000 a year was above 2,000 and that that figure had risen by 18% in the last year and the highest paid was on £283,143.
• J.W. We were amazed when we discovered that at least six Bexley council fat cats were earning more than the Prime Minister. Our Chief Executive is on a salary package we believe of about £245,000 (†) and we don’t feel we are getting a service in return to justify that salary.
• N.F. In a moment I will give you the council’s reaction; what are you seeking to do with this petition Mr. Watson?
• J.W. We are hoping to present it to the council for a discussion at the next full council meeting on the 4th of November I think it is. To date they have refused to take part in David Cameron’s Big Society and meet and discuss with us, they are just giving us blank walls so we’ve mounted this petition. 98% of the people that we contact are in favour but we are hoping the council will now listen to us. Their mission statement is Listening To You, Working For You, but they don’t appear to be doing that at the moment.
• N.F. What is life like in the London Borough of Bexley? How good or otherwise is your council?
• J.W. Our views are that Bexley council are virtually out of control. They’re a law unto themselves, they don’t comply with basic procedures, they don’t reply to correspondence, we try to meet with them but refuse to meet us; it’s unbelievable.
• N.F. Well let me tell you what they are saying; you are absolutely right, your research is correct, there are six people working for Bexley council who enjoy salaries over £100,000 a year; they tell us that the Chief Executive is Will Tuckley; he has a potential to earn up to £208,983. They go on to say the council has in place procedures to ensure staff perform to a high level. I don’t know what we are meant to take from that. The council is a large and multi-faceted organisation with a turn-over of £500 million, is the largest employer in the borough and has responsibilities ranging from child protection to refuse collection. That, they say, explains the salary Mr. Watson.
• J.W. Well we don’t agree, we see them as milking the public cow but every single penny they can get out of us by imposing unfair penalty charges for parking, by increasing parking charges in all public car parks and now introducing parking charges during periods that previously there were no parking charges.
• N.F. Let us know how you get on with your campaign, thanks for getting in touch with the programme John, I hope it goes well. John Watson, Chairman of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group, you can tell he is not going to let that go, we’ll see what happens next month. Let me just remind you of those figures. The Chief Executive of Bexley council earns, has the potential to earn, £208,983, he will earn £185,000, so obviously there is an additional twenty off grand, I imagine bonuses and whatever. Umm, that’s considerably more than the Prime Minister, that is a lot more than the Prime Minister. £185,000 to run Bexley council! And the council talks about having a turnover of over £500 million. Well where do you suppose they get that damned money from? How much of that money do they actually make? Alright, they will do a few lettings of town halls I suppose but it comes from the residents. It’s not like they go out every morning and they haven’t made a dollar is it? And they get up every day and they know they haven’t got any money coming in and they know they are only going to get it from their own skills or enterprises. None of that! They know they can rely on however many, 250 thousand people, whatever it is who live in Bexley borough and if they don’t pay their rates or council tax ultimately they could get sent to jail. That’s how they have their turnover. So what fatuous garbage is the council giving us that in their statement? What a load of nonsense. Where do you think you get the damn money from?
† The £245,000 is from the Tax Payers’ Alliance who added the benefits to the salary: car, health insurance etc. The petition refers only to £208,983, a figure taken from Bexley council’s website. The petition form may be downloaded from this website. 72KB PDF File.
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