Council defends spending £54,000 a year on 'locailty coordinators' after campaign group jibe
A CAMPAIGN group has criticised a Notts council for spending £54,000 a year on two new workers who they claim will do the job councillors are elected to do.
Gedling Borough Council appointed two locality coordinators in September to work with communities in Netherfield as well as Newstead on a permanent, full-time basis.
Their duties include consulting residents to determine local priorities and coming up with plans to tackle them.
Jennifer Eurge, based in Netherfield, and Deborah Widdowson, who is based in Newstead, are employed to focus predominantly on issues such as employment, environment, school engagement and educational achievement, as well as energy efficiency, crime, antisocial behaviour and health.
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Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This role is what residents elect and pay councillors for.
"It is a non-job that should be scrapped. The last thing local taxpayers need is more unaccountable local bureaucrats.
"If councillors did a better job representing residents rather than acting as spokesmen for city hall, maybe people would feel listened to."
However, Tina Simpson, trustee and treasurer at Netherfield's St George's community centre, where one of the new locality coordinators is based, has welcomed the posts.
She said: "I think it's a good idea.
"Anything any agency puts forward to work for and on behalf of the community is a good thing."
Nottingham City Council said the roles were comparable to its 21 neighbourhood development officers, who are paid between £26,000 and £29,000 a year.
Notts County Council employs five community engagement officers, who earn between £24,646 and £28,636. Their duties include helping residents to set up community groups and help identifying and access funding.
Mansfield District Council also has a community engagement manager, who earns between £24,646 and £28,636, and a community engagement and communications officer, who is paid between £17,161 and £21,519.
Notts councils who said they did not employ any comparable or similar roles are Rushcliffe and Broxtowe Borough Council, Newark and Sherwood, Bassetlaw and Ashfield District Council.
Councillor John Clarke, leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: "The new locality coordinators play a vital role in the way the council engages with its communities.
"Our coordinators are experienced professionals with a wealth of knowledge that can and will help people access the services they need.
"They are on the ground in these communities all the time, working with local people to improve things for them.
"Many councils have officers doing similar jobs in areas where they're needed, and I'm sure they'd agree that providing a regular, day-to-day, accessible means by which communities can speak to the council is important. I'm delighted that we're able to offer this service."