The good old days have gone

LEARNING how to “do more for less” was a mantra heard countless times through last year’s General Election campaign.

In one area of Yorkshire, however, a local authority could be accused of doing less for more. Hull City Council’s expensive policy of giving extended bank holidays at several times throughout the year, presided over by the previous Liberal Democrat administration, is, at best, outdated and, at worst, a betrayal of the 1,000-plus staff who are set to lose their jobs.

Britain faces sweeping austerity measures. Whether local politicians agree with them or not, they are already being implemented and no-one can say they didn’t know they were coming. It was, therefore, irresponsible of Carl Minns’ old régime to have allowed the so-called concessionary days to continue. When council tax revenues flow in to local authority coffers in Hull – while the city endures a high rate of unemployment – it is not so staff can enjoy extra days putting their feet up.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This is not a criticism of the moderately paid council workers who empty the bins, fix the roads and perform countless other vital tasks in Hull. Scrutiny of the £2m expenditure on extended holidays is, however, essential when the rest of the country is having to make sacrifices and Hull itself is facing £65m of cuts to areas such as street cleaning and day centres for the disabled.

Now the Labour politicians who have returned to power in Hull must do their bit to sort out the public finances which were wrecked by their colleagues in Westminster. Opening “preliminary” talks with union leaders about moving the council workforce to a system of annualised hours is a start but it must produce concrete results. The union should also recognise that making this small adjustment, which is long overdue, could help to preserve the jobs of some of its members.

Under new political masters, it is time for Hull to turn the corner. For too long, the stewardship of the city has produced more jokes than improvements in the quality of life for residents. The “waste” of £104m generated by the sale of shares in Kingston Communications three years ago is another sorry example of this. The city must join the country in learning how do to more for less.