Labour takes axe to top jobs on council after elections success

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LABOUR has announced plans to shave £1m off “top heavy” management costs at Hull Council in the wake of their election night success.

After winning five seats from the Liberal Democrats, Labour now holds two-thirds of the seats on the council, which just two years ago was in Lib Dem hands.

But such is the economic climate thoughts inevitably are focussed on more cuts.

Council leader Steve Brady said: “There is a reorganisation of management from today. We have gone into a 30-day consultation with senior management and are looking for a minimum of £1m savings.”

Last year 1,000 council staff took voluntary redundancy and Coun Brady said with £8m cuts in the offing, it was time to address management costs.

He said: “Considering the number of jobs that have gone it doesn’t justify the number of management positions there are. Although we have some very good managers we do have a top-heavy structure and it has to be addressed.

“The changes will happen and will happen before the summer recess.

“I’ve said all along the structure is top-heavy and now we are doing something about it.”

Hull East MP Karl Turner saw his 66-year-old father Ken, a former councillor and official for the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, win one of the five seats Labour gained.

The MP said: “I am very pleased for him.

“He has decided he wanted to get back on the council and he has a great majority, something like 73 per cent of the vote. Sutton is the area that’s been held by the Lib Dems for a long time.

“We are clearly making gains in a part of East Hull traditionally held by the Lib Dems.

“We also took Kings Park with 28 votes, which is an incredible result for us.”

Turnout was down from last year with just one in four (25 per cent down from 32 per cent last year) exercising their right to vote.

Councillors blamed public disillusionment with politics in general.

But Tory Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy said it wasn’t a good sign for Labour either: “The big message from tonight is there hasn’t been a victory for Labour.

“What we have actually seen is a low turnout – which is not a good sign for Labour, but we have also seen a very low Conservative turnout. People have sat on their hands.”

UKIP which fielded a record nine candidates outshone the Tories in the seats they contested – although not clinching any seats.

Mr Percy went on: “UKIP have done better than many would have predicted and there is a message to the Conservative leadership – while we accept we are in a coalition, Ministers represent Conservative interests and it would be helpful if they reminded themselves of that.”

Biggest shock of the night was veteran Lib Dem councillor John Robinson losing his Avenue seat to Labour.

Notwithstanding that, Lib Dem councillor Mike Ross who held onto his Newland seat, claimed they had made “significant progress.”

Newly-elected councillor Suzanne Armstrong, 25, the youngest Labour Group member, who took the Ings ward from the Lib Dems, had appealed to younger voters.

Coun Armstrong, who works as an insurance broker, said of her success: “It is scary but really good and I hope younger people see me and want to get involved.

“They all feel quite disenfranchised, it is important they have a voice.”

Andrew Allison, national grassroots coordinator for the Taxpayers Alliance said: “If Coun Brady is really going to cut senior management costs and save at least £1m. it is good news for taxpayers.

“However we have heard promises in the past about cutting staff mileage rates which are still among the most generous in the country and we still haven’t heard anything back.

“Our Town Hall Rich List shows in 2010-2011 Hull’s chief executive Nicola Yates was on a package of almost £223,000 including pension contributions. Many people will look around their pot-holed streets and wonder if all these high salaries are worth it.”