As trade unionists and Labour Party members march to protest against the government’s cuts, it’s emerged one of Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts’ most loyal lieutenants has been given a 25% pay rise.
Communications boss Katrina Delaney has been given her reward for years of keeping him and the council out of trouble by being promoted to a new role as “director of culture, media and sport”. The position was not advertised to the public, and the decision has not yet been published on the council’s website.
Delaney, who as assistant chief executive (communications and community engagement) oversaw the council’s rebranding as “Royal Greenwich” earlier this year, sees her annual pay go up from £100,000 to £125,000. You can see the job ad here, as well as the job description.
I’m told from within the town hall that taxpayers will ultimately save money, as her new role is part of a restructuring which does away with other positions.
But it’s ultimately a recognition of the work put in protecting Greenwich Council’s reputation, while other councils – particularly neighbouring Bexley, the yardstick many in the council test themselves against – have been bogged down in rows with the public.
Greenwich has managed to avoid this by simply ignoring people – whether they are members of the public, journalists, its own councillors or other elected London bodies – and pressing on with its own agenda, regardless of what others may say.
A good example came earlier this week. According to opposition leader Spencer Drury, councillors have been told Greenwich is continuing refusing to fund the Blackheath fireworks because “we have not been asked” – despite the fact Lewisham Council has just launched another appeal for funds. Greenwich always does things its own way, and doesn’t reach out.
Indeed, it even sets its own agenda by publishing its own weekly newspaper, Greenwich Time, putting a glossy spin on the council’s achievements before other media outlets can get to them. Aided by an feeble local media – and the fact that many outlets would rather chase after Conservative councils’ wrong-doings – it largely works.
Of course, all this breeds resentment on the ground, particularly in less high-profile parts of the borough – there’s some gems in this News Shopper story about Abbey Wood.
On a professional level, she’s saved the council’s hides a few times. Journalists like to get two sides of the story – so when one side of the story takes days to get back to you, some are often deterred from pursuing the story.
But such a strategy can only go on for so long – as we’ve seen in the foot tunnels fiasco, which the council has ignored for months, only for it to blow up in its face. Releasing a bland press release on a Friday night also failed to hide the story – even the Evening Standard covered it – and BBC London News is covering the story in its bulletins today, featuring some bigmouth from Charlton.
And perhaps if people stick around to follow the foot tunnel story, they might find more to dig around. Who knows what “hidden structures” might be found beneath the council?