We’ll target high earners at Hampshire County Council, says Ukip leader

SPEAKING OUT Ukip's Ray Finch
SPEAKING OUT Ukip's Ray Finch
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THE leader of Hampshire’s Ukip party has vowed to fight to reduce the number of high earners at the county council.

Ray Finch who represents Leigh Park and Bedhampton, was unanimously chosen to lead the Ukip group at Hampshire County Council, which manages services such as roads, schools, adult and children’s services and libraries across the county except in Portsmouth and Southampton.

Ten Ukip members were voted in earlier this month – including Fareham’s Christopher Wood – along with 45 Conservatives, 17 Lib Dems and four Labour members.

Mr Finch said he was concerned about the number of high earners at the Conservative-led authority.

A report last week by the Taxpayers’ Alliance revealed 28 employees at the county council were paid more than £100,000 last year – putting Hampshire fourth in the national league table for high earners. This was 10 fewer than the previous year, however.

Mr Finch said: ‘There are some extraordinarily highly-paid people in the council. We are going to look at that.

‘We don’t want people at the coal face to suffer.

‘We will be pushing for the council to be more transparent in regards to what it pays for senior management.’

Mr Finch, 49, who used to work as an engineer for Virgin Media, also questioned televising council meetings after the council spent £205,000 on audio, video and web-streaming equipment.

He said: ‘We don’t think it represents value for money, quite frankly.

‘If anyone is that interested, they can read about it in the newspaper or go along to the meeting themselves.

‘It’s a bit of a vanity project.

‘We will be asking the council to look at that again.’

Dad-of-one Mr Finch admitted it was a ‘steep learning curve’ for him.

He said: ‘We have to listen to what people tell us and find out what’s going on in the council before we start shouting about things being done.

‘We are not coming in as wreckers to the council. We want to come in and plan how to best represent our voters and the people of Hampshire.’

He added: ‘We want to see no increases in council tax – we would like to see it lowered, frankly.’

Council officials say the authority has already achieved savings of £100m over the last two years.

Half of the money for televising meetings was paid for by an underspend of councillors’ own budgets and not taken from service budgets.

CONSERVATIVE MEMBER HITS BACK AT UKIP’S CRITICISMS

THE county council is value for money, a councillor has said.

Conservative Cllr Liz Fairhurst, who represents Leigh Park and Bedhampton, said: ‘It’s been audited as one of the best county councils for value for money in the country. We have kept council tax down for four years.

‘We have not cut any front-line services but we have cut lots of managers.’

She added: ‘If Cllr Finch is going to work with us to carry on delivering the best possible services for the best possible price I am delighted.’