New £220K Ashfield cabinet posts are 'an insult to residents'

Ashfield District Council.
Ashfield District Council.

Leaders at Ashfield District Council plan to create four new cabinet posts costing the taxpayer £220,000 over the next four years - despite calls for the cash to be spent on council services.

At the full meeting of Ashfield District Council on July 25, it was voted to allocate funds to introduce four new cabinet roles costing £55,000 per annum or £220,000 over the course of this council’s term. This would be funded via “overspend” on the council’s general fund for 2018-19.

The motion was strongly opposed by Labour party councillors in the room.

Councillor Lauren Mitchell, Ashfield Labour party leader, highlighted that Ashfield now has the largest cabinet (ten members) of any district council in Nottinghamshire.

She said: “For the party that claims to represent the entirety of Ashfield, this decision is an insult to residents across Ashfield District. This money should be being spent on improving our district, not on career politicians.”

Deputy Labour leader, councillor Keir Morrison, added: “Ashfield District Council needs to save millions of pounds over the next four years in order to prevent a looming financial crisis – in real terms this means that the Ashfield Independents will need to choose which council services to scrap and how many council staff will be made redundant over the coming years.

"The money should be used to fund a service or to save jobs that the Ashfield public will benefit from.”

The Independent party, led by Councillor Jason Zadrozny, has said it will mean there is more expertise available and will lead to positive results.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Zadrozny said: "In this game, you get what you pay for. It has been alluded to that we should be spending money 'out there' and that's exactly what we've done. I've now got ten cabinet members, which is entirely within the right of a council leader to do. Nobody has had a pay rise. We are paid at the level we have always been paid.

"It is important that this council runs smoothly so that the members of the public get the service they deserve."

Councillor David Hennigan, new cabinet member for corporate communications, said: “The cabinet is highly experienced and I’m certain they will bring value for money for our residents.

“We are working flat out, full time to make Ashfield a better place to live.

“The council will no longer be funded by the government next year - we’re embarking on an investment programme to extend what we did last year.

“That’s why we were able to freeze council tax and bring in initiatives like the Big Spring Clean.”

Councillor Christian Chapman, cabinet member for crime prevention, said: "I'm glad to see it's been expanded to a larger group. With a team of ten, it's already been proven what we can go for and I'm absolutely delighted that everything is moving forward in this way. I absolutely commend what we are doing."