WIRRAL Council’s chief executive has come under fire for ordering a £25,000 upgrade for town hall bosses’ offices as the authority prepares for massive budget cuts and jobs losses.
The third floor of Wallasey town hall has had its offices decorated and new furniture brought to provide a good impression to “potential investors and influential visitors”.
Chief executive Graham Burgess has undertaken a major restructuring of the senior management, including creating three “super director” posts who will be based at the town hall’s plush new offices.
The move comes as the council prepares to slash £39m from its budget, which will see services drastically cut and hundreds of staff made redundant.
Alec McFadden, spokesman for Wirral Against The Cuts – a campaign group set up to oppose the budget cuts – hit out at the office refurbishments.
He claimed Mr Burgess was “badly out of touch” with ordinary people and many were “outraged that the same chief executive who is seeking to sack workers and cut services to save money” has spent council cash in this way.
He said: “The arrogance of the people who took this decision is similar to Marie Antoinette, the French queen who advised the starving people of Paris who couldn’t afford bread to buy cake instead.”
But Mr Burgess told the Wirral News: “On arrival at Wirral Council it quickly became apparent to me that a lack of a central geographical location for the most senior management was leading to a lack of corporate cohesion at the very highest levels in the council.
“To remedy this required accommodation changes, most of which have now been completed.
“Additionally the standards of the existing offices were poor and hardly an appropriate advert for potential investors and influential visitors to the borough.
“As such some minimal refurbishment has taken place, including the redesign of the third floor of the town hall, decorating seven offices – including my own – a waiting room, the purchase of standard office furniture and the upgrading of small washroom/kitchen.”
The kitchen includes a fridge, sink, and “lower range dishwasher” which is used by around 30 people.
Mr Burgess added: “Contrary to some unfounded rumours, I have not installed – nor do I intend to install – a shower in my office, or indeed anywhere else in the town hall.
“It is regrettable that some are perhaps attempting to use these long-term building improvements to distract from the very real issues that Wirral Council and the borough face in light of the unprecedented budget cuts imposed from central Government.”
Wirral Council cuts special: pages 28-29.