You may not be aware however in Kidsgrove we have three councils who all place different charges on residents for their roles and responsibilities;
- Staffordshire County Council
- Newcastle Borough Council
- Kidsgrove Town Council
These councils are all made up of elected members and the cost to operate these councils is far from cheap. Locally there has been a lot of talk recently regarding Staffordshire County Council and Newcastle Borough Council regarding their actions related to the sports centre closure and now the plans to remove the Kidsgrove Town bus service. However, what about Kidsgrove Town Council? What does this little known entity do that operates from Kidsgrove Town Hall? Not much is the honest answer!
The town council is a real sorry state. It has little power, basically it is a talking shop who send over their concerns to the bigger brother in Newcastle. It does have some power though over the local allotments, more recently Kidsgrove Town Council made the big decision to charge £34 per allotment plot. Yes, this is the only real revenue generating power that Kidsgrove Council has, well apart from charging us all council tax for the privileged of having them! The local council is even unable to fill all the seats that are available - basically meaning that if any resident in Kidsgrove wants to be part of this club, then they can apply to join.
Despite its basically miniscule power and revenue generating ability Kidsgrove Town Council clearly does not know the meaning of the term austerity when it comes to spending public money. This is a council which appears from the council minutes to operate with the following roles;
- Town Clerk
- Business Manager
- Minute Taker
Kidsgrove residents may be concerned that the Town Clerk and Business Manager were not enrolled in a generous public pension scheme, well worry not anymore! It was referred to as a matter of "Urgent Business" in a council meeting. I guess it would be urgent to ensure that the tax payers money in Kidsgrove is being spent as soon as possible on ensuring that these employees are entered into such a scheme.
You would be forgiven for now starting to wonder; why has a small local council got so many employees? Could these roles all not be done by the same person? How does the council ensure that it gets "value for money" from these employees? Well, the answer clearly comes back to the point that they are not spending their own money, they are spending your money!
The Business Manager role it is believed is responsible for promoting "Kidsgrove Town Hall" and its commercial interests. You could argue this is a vital role if the amount of revenue that it generates is substantially greater than the cost of the position? Previously, handling bookings was the role of the Town Clerk (a part time position) so following this appointment of a business manager, on a substantial 5 figure salary and local authority pension scheme you would expect revenue and at Kidsgrove Town Council to have increased? No, in fact taken from the councils own minutes from 2017 "..bookings are still only generating half the revenue than in previous years." So basically then the business manager is not only an additional cost, but actually is bringing in less money, the end result - it costs everyone in Kidsgrove more to operate the council!
In my opinion it appears that the need for a business manager does not exist for the local council. This is a role that should surly be undertaken by the Town Clerk with regards to bookings and some of our local councillors should be chomping at the bit to promote the Town Hall from the good of their hearts. Why do we need so many councillors to just attend a talking shop and to exercise power over allotments? Has the time simply come to stop this abuse of the taxpayer and slim down Kidsgrove Town Council to an organisation considerably?
We are now at a point where it would be easy to request to return more power to the local council in Kidsgorve, however is that really what we should be doing when the current council is showing its true ability to waste £,000's in its current form on needless positions, that actually increase costs and offer no benefit to the tax payer? What annoys me most is that if Kidsgrove Town Council has all this money knocking about, stop spending it on themselves and get spending it on the residents of Kidsgrove!