The Isles of Scilly is a small, quiet island community 30 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall. Known for it's gentle pace of life, clean air and pristine beaches, it seems that not even this community of 2,000 people has escaped the excesses of local government spending.
Jobs at the Town Hall include a host of Emergency Planning Officers, Climate Change Officer, scores of assistants, bag carriers, financial and economic officers. The list goes on. See details of the 39 Officers who earn more than £30,000. Yet the average annual income for residents is around £15,000. The Chief Executive is on a basic salary of £80,000.
The Council's annual operating budget of £4 million a year equates to £2,000 spending per head. The Council provoked fury last year by awarding Senior Officers an 18% pay rise. In order to placate growing anger, ordinary council staff (of which there are about 300) have been offered a 4.5% pay rise. All this at a time of pay restraint and redundancy in the private sector.
In fairness I should add that the Council Tax is relatively low (£1,187 for Band D). But given the modest earnings for many in Scilly this is still a great burden. I hope the new transparency requirements will bring pressure to reduce it.
The Council managed to secure £14 million for a new school for the 200 +/- pupils on the island, before Michael Gove announced his review of the scheme. On top of this, another £1 million has been awarded for a state of the art four court sports hall.
There are 21 elected councillors (all independents) costing over £100K per annum in fees. That's one councillor for every 95 people in the community – and probably one for every 70 or so voters.
The Council's policy areas include Anti-fraud, biodiversity, drugs strategy, fair access, diversity, equality, gambling, genealogy and emergency planning. New offices and "policy hubs" for the Council spring up on a monthly basis.