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Another attack on Andrea Hill — pressure mounts

It is not surprising that the Mail on Sunday ran a comment article on Suffolk’s high-paid county council chief executive, Andrea Hill yesterday. Its sister paper the Daily Mail has had its teeth into this story for months.

What is surprising is that it was written by Kathy Pollard, Lib Dem leader on the council, and her colleague Caroline Page, who represents Woodbridge. It underlines the breakdown in relations between Pollard and Hill which was revealed last week.

Pollard and Page write in the MoS:

The chief executive of a publicly listed company is tasked with taking shareholders’ money and making it multiply. They need to be entrepreneurial, risk-taking. The value of their shares can go down as well as up and it is fair to remunerate them accordingly.

The chief executive of a county council, on the other hand, takes no risks, makes no profits – all they are asked to do is to spend our money wisely on our public services. Far from being entrepreneurs, they are glorified quartermasters.

Yet a lot of these executives have little experience of real life. All they have ever known is how to ‘administer’ things in a local government context.

Unelected, unaccountable, graced with what ordinary people often feel are screamingly undeserved salaries, they have risen without trace within the largely unaudited, unquestioning world of local government fiefdoms.

There can be no doubt that a large proportion of the Suffolk taxpayers see Hill as the problem. Her wages are considerably higher than those of David Cameron. And on top of that she spends their money on seemingly whacky training, a glamorous photo shoot and more.

Yet the extent to which she is responsible for the policies which are seeing school crossing patrols and lower-cost travel for students ended, recycling centres closed, retirement homes likely to be sold, bus services reduced and libraries under threat is unclear.

These are decisions for the Conservative cabinet and the overwhelmingly Tory councillors. But there is a lack of clarity about where the policies are really originating.

If council leader Jeremy Pembroke and his cabinet colleagues would take a much more public stance in explaining their policies and justifying them it might take some of the pressure off Hill. It may well be too late for that as Hill has become the story of Suffolk County Council.

The attacks on Hill are the most obvious symptom of the frustration of people who feel they have little chance of influencing policy. Something needs to change, and change quickly.

Footnote: Two more Suffolk political blogs, neither of which are known for leftist views, have, over the weekend, called for Hill to go. They are Bridge Ward News and A Riverside View.

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  1. ariversideview says

    It’s gone far beyond the issue of her salary.

  2. Ipswich Spy says

    Whilst Andrea’s basic salary is higher than the PM, overall she doesn’t get anywhere near his total renumeration (pension etc.)

    Don’t forget Andrea doesn’t yet get a central London flat and a country estate as part of her package, whilst the PM does. She doesn’t get a pension anywhere near that of a PM. And she isn’t elected like the PM.

    A better comparison would actually be with the Cabinet Secretary. Which would show Andrea Hill earning LESS than him.

    Eric Pickles likes to talk about localism. Andrea was appointed after a vote of the full county council and the Tories won an election against campaigns from the Lib Dems that made her salary an election issue. Those who shout loudest about her salary forget that they still voted for the Tories.

  3. ariversideview says

    Alasdair, you are completely deluded! David Cameron and Eric pickles agree with Dan Poulter on this. Do you honestly think Cameron and Pickles care about seats on Ipswich Borough Council? No wonder Judy Terry is such a popular Councillor for Rushmere, she actually does things for the ward, all you do is rant against ‘the wicked tories’ It’s pathetic!

  4. Alasdair Ross says

    Two Ipswich tory blogs calling for Andrea Hill to go!!
    Just a smokescreen, it seems the Ipswich Tories will now call for Ms Hill to go, to try and save their seats in the Borough election, but forgetting to mention that Judy terry one of their leading Cllrs is a Cabinet member on the Couty Council- I think the local tories now feel it is better to blame Hill than Pembroke (or Terry)
    Total sham- same as Dr Poulter and Gummer attacking Hill, when they should be in talks with the likes of Pembroke, Noble and terry in sorting this NSD mess out
    It is not Hill that is to blame but Pembroke and the TORY run County Council