WE MAY have too many top council officers earning high salaries.

That is one of the key messages in a policy statement from the new Our Island group, which is putting forward candidates for next month’s Isle of Wight Council elections.

Former IW Council leader Jonathan Bacon, who is a candidate for Our Island in Brading and St Helens, says a major restructuring exercise is needed to ensure money is better spent.

He said: “An analysis of information available on the council’s website shows that council officers in the top 40 jobs take home salaries totalling £2,925,848.

Jonathan Bacon, Our Island candidate for Brading and St Helens.

Jonathan Bacon, Our Island candidate for Brading and St Helens.

"That is the equivalent of around £75,000 each, or 1,488 band D council tax payments.

"We need to ask if this represents value for money, or whether that money can be better spent on more pressing needs such as helping young people into employment, supporting mental health and assisting businesses to recover after the pandemic.

"We will start the restructuring process by undertaking a full cost benefit analysis of our council structure.”

Mr Bacon added: “The current model simply doesn’t work.

"Each year we have been required to give more and more money to the council and have received less and less in return.

"In the last four years we have seen council tax increase by 20 per cent and charges for council services increase by 25 per cent.

"A lot of the money we pay goes to support out of date management structures and unnecessary bureaucracy.

“The last year has shown that our frontline staff are key to achieving positive progress and supporting our residents and businesses.

"If we create a new, leaner council structure, that keeps frontline staff in place while getting rid of unnecessary management and procedures, we create capacity to enable the council to act positively for our local community.”

Phil Warren, Our Island candidate for Ventnor and St Lawrence.

Phil Warren, Our Island candidate for Ventnor and St Lawrence.

His colleague, Phil Warren, Our Island candidate for Ventnor and St Lawrence, said: “To facilitate informed discussion and decision making, and to get away from political bickering, council committees should bring in independent people to chair, and experts in the issues they are dealing with.

“We will also work much more closely with Parish and Town Councils.

"These bodies are much better placed to deal with many local issues, so they should be given the responsibility and resources to help them do this, as well as the ability to raise income.

"We must cease the recent practice of simply offloading liabilities onto the parishes, but failing to pass over the supporting resources.

“Councils should work with residents and take onboard their views. Current consultation processes are woefully inadequate and fail to engage with people.

"Little or no information of any use is gathered and the council generally proceeds to do what it wants anyway.

"We will find a better way to engage and involve our residents and businesses, and more effective ways of consulting with them."