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Tuesday, July 17, 2012
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Staff paid overtime despite not working extra hours
ANGER OVER £291k PERK BY ALEX CAMPBELL
DOZENS of city council workers have pocketed overtime payments of thousands of pounds a year – despite not working any extra hours. Stoke-on-Trent City Council has paid out £291,000 in ‘contractual overtime’ payments since 2008 to staff who received the cash even when they were off sick or on holiday. Officers today described the contractual perk as a ‘historical payment’. They admitted staff claiming the money were not working any overtime. Figures obtained by The Sentinel reveal: ■ A total of 290 payments have been made under the scheme in the last four years; ■ Average payments are £1,000-a-year, while the highest individual payments top £4,325 in a year; ■ The number of staff claiming the perk peaked at 84 in 2010, costing the authority £97,356. Now the council is to scrap the automatic overtime payments from August 1. They are being axed as part of council moves to save £2 million-a-
year by targeting workers’ contractual rights, which has triggered threats of strike action from unions. The number of staff receiving the payments fell to 69 in 2011/12. Robert Oxley, campaign manager of lobbying group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It defies belief this cosy arrangement was agreed in the first place, let alone that we are only learning about it now. It’s an unjustifiable waste of money. “These revelations beg the question of what other convenient deals costing taxpayers a fortune are buried in council contracts.” North Staffordshire Pensioners’ Convention chairman John Davis, of Bentilee, says the £291,000 would pay for pensioners and disabled bus passengers to enjoy free bus travel 24 hours-a-day for three years.
Police appeal on bar’s hours STAFFORDSHIRE Police was today launching an appeal against a decision to cut a trouble plagued bar’s opening hours by just one hour. The force called for a review of Manhattan Bar’s licence earlier this year after raising concerns over the number of crimes reported to them in and around the Hanley venue. At a Stoke-on-Trent City Council licensing subcommittee hearing in May, eight sanctions were imposed on the owners, including a 3.30am closing time. But Staffordshire Police is appealing against the ruling at Stafford Magistrates’ Court as officers believe it does not go far enough to address the problems.
Wedgwood plan goes on display
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RESIDENTS were today being invited to have their say on multi-million pound pottery development plans. Consultants were due to meet families to discuss the investment in Wedgwood’s Barlaston site. Proposals include new manufacturing facilities, creating 100 new jobs and safeguarding 500 others. Some of the money would come from Wedgwood’s parent company WWRD selling part of the 281-acre site for highclass housing. The consultation was being held at The Wedgwood Museum.
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‘TOO MANY MISTAKES’: Pensioners’ Convention chairman John Davis and Councillor Olwen Halmer.
He added: “We can no longer travel for free on buses in Stoke-onTrent before 9.30am and that has caused a lot of disruption to a lot of people’s lives. This money could have kept the subsidy going for three years. “I have never heard of a clause that pays people overtime even if they don’t do it. There are too many of these mistakes.” Council officials were today unable to explain how the particular employees – who are not in the same department – came to receive the perk. Councillor Olwen Hamer, cabinet member for transformation and resources, said: “As part of budgetsaving proposals all possible avenues of delivering savings were examined in an attempt to mitigate against redundancies. “A number of staff had been in receipt of contractual overtime. “But a review found it evident that these staff didn’t work the overtime and that it was an historical payment. “We consulted with trade unions, and they agreed that this payment be removed from August 1. “Instances where overtime is worked on an ad-hoc basis will continue to be paid as normal.”
PROBLEM PUB: Manhattan Bar.