A Letter to the Editor from Christine Beaumont of Haxby, who is puzzled by Whitby Town Council’s exhorbitant staffing costs.
I have been following the North Yorkshire Enquirer for some time, along with the Stray Ferret closer to my own neck of the woods.
I must say I was shocked to learn about the volume and seriousness of simple errors made by the staff at Whitby council. I was even more shocked by the pay scales when I downloaded your link to the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) 2023 Salary Awards, as agreed with the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC).
I see the Ferret has advertised a vacancy for a Clerk for Hartwith cum Winsley council.
The post carries a reasonable remuneration. 4½ hours per week, which means 18 hours per month at a rate of £12.97 per hour, for 52 weeks. An annual salary of £3,034.98.
Admittedly, Hartwith, situated a few mile outside of Harrogate, is a far smaller parish than Whitb,y with only six seats as opposed to nineteen. Only about a third the size of Whitby council, Hartwith serves a handful of surrounding villages. It has a simple but tidy little website, where all agendas and minutes are easy to find and kept well up to date. Those I examined were informative, correctly dated and timed. Members interests were properly displayed, along with their home addresses.
By and large, this compares very favourably with Whitby, where everything seems to be a quite a jumble, about as clear as mud.
The NALC pay scales show that the Whitby Clerk is on the very top rung of a salary ladder reaching all the way up to MP level. Does a Parish Clerk actually EARN as much as an MP?
With three times as many members to service, I could well understand the Whitby Clerk being on three times the Hartwith Clerk’s salary (say £9K per annum instead of £3K). But where can be the justification for the Whitby Clerk drawing down almost TEN TIMES even that handsome amount?
37 hours per week (148 hours per month) at £43.77 per hour, times 52 weeks equals an annual salary of £84,213.48, or so NALC tells us.
So what, I wondered, makes the Whitby Clerk anything like value for money at over three times the hourly rate of the Hartwith Clerk?
But then I came across two interesting snippets of information. At the top of the NALC table, I saw this:
The SLCC is the Society of Local Council Clerks. I know. My first husband was a member.
Then I came across this:
I am not for one moment suggesting the the Whitby Clerk had a hand in setting his own pay scale. Well, not exactly.
But is there really any sound reason why Whitby council could not have appointed a Clerk at an hourly rate of something like £25 per hour (roughly double the Hartwith rate) which (for 52 weeks at 37 hours per week) would work at at around £48K? I should think few jobs in Whitby (or Hartwith) offer anything like that.
Quite why Whitby council needs a Deputy Clerk and an assistant on top of their vastly overpaid and well-connected Clerk is anoether mystery which I will leave to the Enquirer or the Ferret to untangle.