Analysis by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, has revealed that millions of pounds intended to regenerate the Tees Valley has instead been used to fund an enormous expansion in senior management employed by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, which Mayor Ben Houchen has responsibility for.
And Mr Houchen has also been rebuked for his use of sexist language which undermines efforts to create equality in the workplace.
In 2016/17 staff salaries at the Tees Valley Combined Authority stood at £1.55m, with eight staff earning over £50,000. This figure is set to rise to £3.9m for 2020/21, with the number of high earners now standing at 15.
Mr Coppinger said: “Research carried out in order to answer a question from the media has shone a light on the massive expansion of staff at the Combined Authority and the subsequent cost to the taxpayer.
“This 150% increase in just four years equates to £2.35m a year that could instead have been used to help businesses in this area recover from the effects of the Covid 19 lockdown.
“By anyone’s standards that is a staggering rise in staffing costs at a time when most public services in this area faced severe austerity cuts and were desperately trying to reduce costs in order to maintain services.”
Mr Coppinger’s office has recently engaged in a full and open recruitment process for an Assistant Chief Executive. One of just three staff posts in his office that are paid over £50,000.
Rejecting comments by the Tees Valley Mayor that this was “jobs for the boys” Mr Coppinger pointed out that in 2016/17 the cost of OPCC staff salaries was £658,000.
The latest budget costs for 2020/21 shows that collaboration agreements on senior staff with North Yorkshire has helped to keep these costs down to £655,000.
“Such language has no place in today’s society and exposes the Mayor’s ignorance of the fact that the previous two incumbents have both been exceptional public servants who were women” said Mr Coppinger.
“Considering the Mayor is supposed to be responsible for the jobs, skills and enterprise agenda he should consider the damage language such as this – when we are still in the recruitment process – does to attracting women to senior posts. Working towards equality in key leadership roles should be a key priority.”
Mr Coppinger has now written to the Chair and members of the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel, correcting Mr Houchen’s mistakes.
Notes to editors
Letter from PCC Barry Coppinger to Cleveland Police and Crime Panel: https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Document-Library/Letters/2020/Letters-from-PCC/Letter-to-Police-and-Crime-Panel-Assistant-Chief-Executive-Recruitment.pdf
Reference to the £1.55m TVCA staff salaries for 16/17 can be found at: https://teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Combined-Authority-Agenda-4th-April-2016.pdf
Reference to the £3.9m TVCA staff salaries for 20/21 can be found at: https://teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/7-Combined-Authority-Budget-Report-2020-21-Final.pdf
All OPCC budgetary information can be found here: https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Decisions/Financial-Information.aspx