Taxpayers are stumping up thousands of pounds to pay for “management coaching” for council chiefs.
Despite Brighton and Hove City Council having to make more than £20 million savings in the next year, The Argus can reveal the local authority has hired a consultant to offer tips to its senior staff.
The local authority claims the investment would benefit services in the long run but union representatives blasted it as an “unnecessary luxury”.
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Mark Turner, of the GMB, said: “The days of these luxuries are gone.
“I’m all for the council nurturing its staff but if they are going to help then they should offer support across the board. I do not know what these coaches do. The only coach I know is one that looks after my football team every week.
“What can they tell the managers that they do not already know?”
A council spokeswoman refused to reveal how much the coaching had cost the local authority.
However, sources claim the sessions, which are charged on a daily rate, amount to about £1,200 a week.
It is not known how many members of staff receive the support although it is understood the offer extends to the upper tiers of management including department heads.
Sources added the council’s chief executive Penny Thompson is among those to receiving the support.
Sue Moorman, the council’s head of human resources and organisational development, said: “Coaching is commonly used by senior managers and is an investment in their leadership capacity for the benefit of key services.
“The council faces significant challenges as we strive to modernise and be ever more responsive to citizens needs.”
But Conservative councillor Dee Simson said: “These senior members of staff have presumably been appointed to their positions, at least in part, because they are good managers.
“It therefore seems to be a bit odd, not to say extravagant, that so much money is being spent on coaching them, particularly at a time when finances are tight.
“This also comes hot on the heels of the revelation that the council is paying Ernst and Young £75,000 to advise them on how to save money.
“I would query whether this is all prudent use of council taxpayers money.”
A decision on the council’s budget plans for 2014/15 will be taken by all 54 councillors in February.