Bedford mayor slammed over cash spent on agency staff

Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson. PNL-151216-140348001
Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson. PNL-151216-140348001

Mayor Dave Hodgson has been slammed for overseeing a ‘full blown recruitment crisis’ set to cost taxpayers £297,000.

Figures obtained by local Conservatives show the council had 94 vacancies in the Environment directorate this month,

But 66 of these vacancies – more than two thirds – have been temporarily filled by agency staff to plug the gaps.

This will result in a projected staffing overspend of £279k by the end of 2018/19, claim the Conservatives.

Councillor Roger Rigby said: “Taxpayers are footing the bill for the mayor’s incompetent management. Mayor Hodgson complains relentlessly about the council’s funding position but it is time to look at his own record.”

He said the situation raises “serious questions” over the mayor’s ability to manage the council’s restructure.

But Deputy Mayor and Environment portfolio holder Cllr Charles Royden said: “It is ridiculous to suggest employing people full time to do seasonal work.”

He added: “ It is no wonder a neighbouring Tory council is going bust, while Bedford Borough Council has consistently delivered savings to invest in frontline services including roads, education and social care. The Tories would do well to learn from this sound financial management which was so sorely lacking when they ran the council and we had the highest council tax and the worst performing services in the country.”