On the 1st April 2018, Dr Susan Julia Priest (pictured), became the first woman to be the Head of Paid Services (HoPS) of Folkestone & Hythe District Council. She took over from the previous HoPS & Chief Exec, Alistair Stewart. Dr Priest became the Chief Executive later on in 2018.
Prior to her time as Chief Executive, there has been an ongoing ‘transformation‘ project within our council, which was designed to create efficiency savings for the council, and make it more agile. Dr Priest has driven this ‘transformation‘ onwards.
However, when one compares temporary staff costs between the two chief executives, one can see that under Dr Priest’s leadership, the Council have spent 28% more on temporary staff than her predecessor.
Looked at as a graph, one can see an even clearer picture, that temporary staff costs have risen under Dr Priest’s leadership. The graph shows that costs dramatically fell during covid, April 2020 – March 2021, then rose again significantly. Since Dr Priest has been in charge, temporary staff costs have been close to, or more than a million in three out of the last four years of her tenure as HoPS & Chief Executive of Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
Under Dr Priest’s tenure as Chief Executive, there have been more irregularities than ever before. We begin to wonder how the transformation project could have saved any money whatsoever, as according to the payment data, that has not happened.
The transformation of Folkestone & Hythe District Council was meant to create savings. That said
Savings do not require that efficiencies be recorded net of up-front investment costs i.e. if you spend money to save money, you count the money saved but not the money spent in the process. By this logic, scrapping posts and hiring in consultants counts as a total saving.”
– Matthew Elliot and Lee Rotherham
Efficiencies are effectively savings that come in two kinds: those you don’t necessarily have to be able to ‘bank’, and those that you do. The second being what we might actually recognize as a ‘cut’ i.e. spending less money.
Efficiencies make some accountant’s have wet dreams. Some wonderful paper savings can be made without actually having to go through the tricky process of really spending less. So now that the hammer has well and truly fallen on Folkestone & Hythe District Council budgets, all the accountants have been well and truly prepared, but not well enough when it comes to efficiencies and savings on temporary staff costs.
It seems to us, the consultants brought in to find efficiencies, and drive savings, were in the business of giving out snake oil to senior council officer’s, who appear to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker. But of course, we’ll leave you to decide if that is so.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful