24 hours is a long time in the life of Somerset County Council. Yesterday they confirmed a new (temporary) s151 officer had been appointed. Sheila Collins is to receive a salary of £900 a day which works out, assuming usual leave etc at around about £211,500. This is around £61,000 more than the Prime Minister and will make her one of the highest paid local government officers in the country.
SCC have struggled to recruit a full time S151 officer (finance director to you and me). Ms Collins will be on a 13 month contract which appears to breach SCC’s own rules which suggest posts over £500 a day should be for 6 months and then reviewed.
Meanwhile just a day later the news from CEO Patrick Flaherty is of yet another re-organisation of staff at County Hall. The only think that has been constant in County Hall over the past few years is the constant state of change. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it usually costs money, it is disruptive to staff and morale sapping.
And if you can afford over £200 big ones for your finance chief, clearly money is not an issue.
Is this change for changes sake? I’ll leave you with the CEO’s own words:
“I think we need big change. So, does that mean something is desperately wrong and needs fixing? Absolutely not. I look back at the last four or five years with huge pride in what you have achieved. I’m very satisfied with where we are, but I know we have the potential do a whole lot more.”