Woking leisure park area

“Bonkers but essential” job to cut back jobs?


‘Bonkers but essential’ is how a new £75,000 job, running bankrupt Woking Borough Council’s decimated leisure and communities services is being described.

Last month, the council cut more than £8million from its budget; slashing spending on daycare centres, Citizens Advice Woking, and telling Pool in the Park to become self-sustaining or risk closure.

Now, it is advertising a new Head of Leisure and Communities to oversee the service and, on top a basic salary of between £65,624 and £76,439 a year, includes a £3,255 ‘flexible benefits allowance”.

The advert, which runs until March 24, is seeking somebody to lead on the “commissioning, oversight and delivery of a range of leisure and community services, ensuring the facilities are operated in the most efficient, effective and sustainable way.”

The successful candidate will be in charge of leisure contracts, sports and leisure services, arts and culture, community centres, and community safety.

A spokesperson for Woking Borough Council described the role as “a permanent position” adding that it was “essential to ensuring these services can move to a self-financing position through strong and effective partnerships, including managing the Council’s leisure contract.”

The outgoing postholder played a key role in making it possible for the  borough to retain as many of the services it has, in the face of the necessary swinging cuts needed to balance its books. Leader of the opposition, Councillor Kevin Davies said: “Ultimately you can argue that it s a non-statutory service, but the residents of Woking have made it extremely clear that they see it differently.

“On the face of it, the high value of the role is galling particularly as people have been made redundant but the (post holder) will be responsible for a lot of services that people hold dear.

“Will the council come across as tone deaf? Of course, but the residents want these services as at the end of the day.

“It looks bonkers, but it’s to protect something that people see as absolutely valuable. We need a really good person and the incumbent has done a really good job in protecting as many of the services we could – without him we’d have lost Pool in the Park.”

He added that the service would soon become a “shadow of its former self” with the council delivering the minimum is could get away with, for the maximum tax. He said: “Before it was trying to do the opposite, the real answer should be somewhere in the middle.

Among the role’s duties will be working with both public and private sector partners to develop a “healthy, inclusive and engaged community” and to drive new initiatives that support residents as well as commissioning and contract management.

Related reports:

Woking’s whopping bail out and tax rise

Woking’s debt crisis explained

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