Eric Pickles is clearly the energiser bunny of the government. It seems that barely a day goes by without another policy announcement on Local Government, and today is no different. The latest idea is that if a Council is to award a salary of over £100K then there must be a vote at Full Council to authorise it.
It is easy to see the downsides of this, and interview subjects have been mentioning this morning on radio and television. Firstly, it will be pretty intrusive and embarrassing for the new hire or promotion to have their salary debated at a public meeting where dozens of people will be present. Secondly, it is easy to imagine people who don't really understand executive pay getting over-excited by the whole process, and thirdly it will absolutely make senior officer pay the stuff of politics. All true, but the current system of closed-door meetings has led to astonishing salary inflation in the public sector, and debating and voting on senior salaries in public will no doubt have a dampening effect on salary levels in the future. There is also the basic principle that as much Council business should be transacted in public and attached to a democratic process.
Transparency and accountability are good antidotes to bad decisions.