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Home / Latest News / Cardiff council’s interim boss will be paid £30,000 for 30 days work

Cardiff council’s interim boss will be paid £30,000 for 30 days work

Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s former special adviser will be paid £30,000 for 30 days work as the temporary boss of Cardiff council, it has emerged.

Sir Peter Rogers’ £1,000-a-day salary as the part-time “head of paid service” will be paid for by the taxpayer-funded Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

The WLGA did not answer questions from WalesOnline about Sir Peter’s salary yesterday, but it’s understood the figure was disclosed to councillors in the ruling Labour group on Monday.

It was confirmed, however, that the proposal is for the ex-London Development Agency chief executive to work 30 days spread out over three months between July and September.

The revelation sparked outrage from trade unions which represent thousands of council staff, with Unison claiming the appointment would be a “disaster for Cardiff” and an “outrageous waste of public money”.

The Labour administration has indicated it wants Sir Peter to take the helm while it searches for a permanent successor to outgoing chief executive Jon House, who has quit to join PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Unison, GMB and Unite, however, want an existing member of the council’s senior management to fill the temporary post.

A cross-party committee of councillors yesterday unanimously made the same recommendation.

Unison regional secretary Steve Belcher said: “Nice work if you can get it, but to me it just highlights the absolute contempt this council has for their hard-working employees who had to accept a measly 1% increase this year.”

GMB branch secretary Ken Daniels said £30,000 was the equivalent of what a social worker’s salary, adding: “It’s an absolute scandal.”

He called for Labour backbench councillors to join the opposition in blocking Sir Peter’s appointment in a vote at next week’s full council meeting.

The Labour cabinet will meet today to decide whether to accept the WLGA’s offer and take it to the full council. Cabinet member for finance, Russell Goodway, previously said he “couldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.

The cabinet will also decide on its plans for permanent replacement for Mr House, having said its preference is to replace the post with a “city director” on a lower wage and with fewer responsibilities.

Responding to union calls for one of the two former council chief executives within the council’s ranks to temporarily cover the post, the council’s Labour leader Heather Joyce revealed Cardiff’s school services were at risk of being placed in “special measures”.

As the council’s £130,000 corporate director of operations, Andrew Kerr is overseeing the city’s schools and Coun Joyce she could not burden him with any extra responsibilities.

WLGA chief executive Steve Thomas said Sir Peter was due to come to Cardiff in the summer anyway as part of a six-member “corporate peer review” of the council’s operations.

Mr Thomas said it offered to use its own resources to fund Sir Peter’s appointment “at a time when (Cardiff council) have got a very depleted management team”, with most of the new tier of £120,000 directors not starting until August.

He said there had been some “hysterical nonsense” about Sir Peter’s proposed appointment, saying the ex-Westminster City Council chief executive would offer additional capacity and was “delighted to offer his services”.

“Now is not the time to take your director of education away from his education brief. The thing that you should avoid at all costs is Cardiff going into special measures,” Mr Thomas said.

Committee members questioned whether there would be a conflict of interest in Sir Peter’s role on the peer review at the same time as being the authority’s highest ranking official.

Labour’s Cathays councillor Sam Knight said it “appeared contradictory” and said there should be a “clear separation” between the two roles.

Rhiwbina’s Independent councillor Adrian Robson said: “This does not sit comfortably with me. I do not see what Sir Peter can add as head of paid services over and above what he can as a peer reviewer.”

Mr Thomas said he did “not see any conflict”, describing it as an “innovative approach”.

Conservative group leader David Walker said it was likely a permanent replacement for Mr House wouldn’t start until next year and asked what would happen once Sir Peter left in late September.

Coun Joyce replied that by that stage the new directors would be in post, meaning the council could then appoint another interim head of paid service from within its ranks. “It’s not ideal, I agree,” she said.

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