Four “inappropriate” and “excessive” cabinet posts have been axed in one of Surrey County Council’s first moves since a large majority of Conservative councillors were re-elected earlier this month.
County Hall last week scrapped cabinet associate posts for children, schools and families, the built environment, adult social care, wellbeing and independence, and community safety services, citing “financial pressures”.
The cabinet associates were responsible for leading policy direction and working alongside the deputy leader of the council.
David Hodge, leader of Surrey County Council, decided to discontinue the roles as he unveiled his new cabinet after the county council elections earlier this month.
He said the jobs, which have cost the taxpayer nearly £200,000 since they were introduced in 2013, were “inappropriate” in a time of austerity.
In March, it was revealed that frontline services face nearly £72million of cuts this year, with the adult social care, highways, health, and children, school and families budgets are to be slashed, as the council looked to offset £170million of sustained government cuts since 2010.
Cllr Hodge (pictured above) said last week: “Given the financial pressures the council is facing and the need to find more than £100million of savings this year I felt it was appropriate not to fill these posts at this current time.”
Liberal Democrats leader Councillor Hazel Watson (pictured below), who had repeatedly called for the posts to be scrapped, said the money saved should be spent on frontline services.
A question to the council in March revealed £192,820 had been spent on special responsibility allowances for the four posts since they were created – a figure Cllr Watson described as “excessive”.
She said: "I am pleased that these posts have been scrapped but disappointed that it has taken several years for the Conservative-administration at County Hall to realise that these roles were a waste of money.
“At a time of tight financial constraints for the county council, it is vital that every penny is spent wisely and it was clearly not possible for the Leader of the Council to be able to justify the rationale for these posts any longer.
"The cost of the four cabinet associate posts was just over £50,000 in 2016/17, at a time when the Conservative-administration was cutting services, introducing fees for using the tip and raising council tax - no wonder only 39 per cent of Surrey residents agreed that the county council provided value for money.”
The county council’s most recent quarterly survey also revealed that 40 per cent were satisfied with services for older people, 22 per cent were satisfied with road maintenance, and 33 per cent were satisfied with services for people with disabilities.
Got a story? Get in touch at email@example.com