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Spin doctor on £620 a day stays seven months at Sussex council
9:00am Tuesday 29th January 2013 in News
A spin doctor hired on £620 a day on a temporary basis is to finally leave her council post – after staying for three months longer than officials said she would.
East Sussex County Council hired Jill Rawlins as temporary head of communications in July and told The Argus she would be in the role for up to four months.
However the council extended her contract so she could help the authority with marketing campaigns and to help increase the uptake of MMR vaccinations.
It is possible that by the time she leaves her post, Mrs Rawlins could have been paid more than £100,000 for seven months work – more than her predecessor was paid in a year.
This week, the council announced her replacement will be Simon Wakeman, who will take on the role of head of communications while also staying in his current role at Medway Council.
It will be the first time two upper tier councils have shared their top communications role in this way, with the authorities paying half his wages each.
A spokesman was unable to confirm Mr Wakeman’s salary, but it is understood the council will pay him less than his predecessor was paid.
The merging of the communications role is part of a larger project of the two councils working together to develop proposals for a shared communications agency.
Opposition councillors say the temporary communications post is just one of several interim high-level consultants costing the taxpayer dear.
Last month, The Argus revealed the authority was spending £1,101 a day on temporary management.
Simon Hughes, the assistant chief executive at the council, said: “The extension has allowed Jill to help us with recruitment and to work through some management changes designed to save money.”
Councillor David Tutt, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the local authority, said: “I’m not saying these people are anything but competent at their jobs, but the council should be looking at longer-term appointments.
“I’m not sure why they have had delays, they have been looking at their structure for what they want from the longer term, but while they do that it is costing taxpayers a lot of money.”
Labour councillor Jeremy Birch said: “Temporary means temporary and short-term and we are stretching the definition here.”
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