Row over support officer appointment

Enfield Civic Centre
Enfield Civic Centre

Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

A row has broken out over the creation of a new post to provide policy advice to senior decision-makers at Enfield Council.

Conservative group leader Joanne Laban says the appointment of a cabinet support officer shows the Labour administration is “out of touch”, but council leader Nesil Caliskan claims most other local authorities have similar roles.

With a salary of between £33,945 and £36,711, the job was advertised as “providing expert policy advice to cabinet members and/or the leader as part of the new corporate strategy service”.

The advert said the officer would be “required to lead on the design and drafting of new research reports with the assistance and input of senior officers from across the local authority and from national best practice and government sources to create recommendations that can inform future strategy and new policy development for the local authority”.

An internet search carried out by the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed recent advertisements for cabinet support officer roles at several other councils, including Newham, Haringey and Surrey.

Cllr Laban said it was “utter hypocrisy” for the Labour administration to create the role “when all we hear is that the council is short of money”, adding that the council had managed without political and cabinet research officers for years.

“It shows how out of touch the council is if creating this new role is a priority,” she continued. “All spare cash at the moment should be going on employing additional street cleaners, social workers, carers or other roles to help with the response to the pandemic – not someone nowhere near the frontline.”

Cllr Caliskan said: “The cabinet support officer role reports to officers of the council and not to politicians. Cllr Laban should be ashamed of herself for attacking a young graduate from Enfield who has chosen to take on a role in our very own council.

“It is admirable that a young graduate would seek to serve their community during such difficult times. Most other local authorities, including those with Conservative administrations, have similar roles.”