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South Cambs: £37,500 a year political assistants for Lib Dems and Tories

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South Cambridgeshire District Council has agreed to provide both its Lib Dem leader and her Tory opposition leader with £37,500 a year political assistants.

Each will be on a fixed term contract until May 2026 and can opt for a full 37 hours a week or agree pro rata part time hours.

Identical job and person descriptions have been published except, of course, one will “work closely with the Liberal Democrat Group Leader and their group”. And the other to “work closely with the Conservative group leader and their group”.

Both job ads state that the political assistants will provide “provide research, communications, and policy development advice to the members of a political group and support them in their responsibilities.

“We need someone with relevant qualifications and experience of working in a political environment.

“You will have detailed knowledge of the political environment in South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge and Peterborough as a whole, including key policy issues.

“You will also need superb writing skills, including experience of drafting briefing notes, reports and speeches.”

Successful candidates, who will work within the chief executive’s team, will be expected to work “very closely with our communication team colleagues”.

There are currently 44 members of the district council, representing 106 parishes and settlements.
One seat is vacant.

The current composition of the council is: 34 Liberal Democrats, 9 Conservatives and 1 Independent (Liberal Democrat Control).

Labour not so happy

But the new roles have not gone well with the Labour Party.

Elizabeth McWilliams, local democracy spokesperson for South East Cambridgeshire Labour Party, is not impressed.

“ Among other duties, they are expected to oversee the ‘creation of a refreshed manifesto’ for the party to which they give support,” she said.

“These are full-time jobs with an annual salary of £32,662 to £37,762 each.

“This is the same local authority who have refused to accredit to the Living Wage Foundation: a commitment to pay its own employees a guaranteed living wage, work only with contractors/suppliers who do so, and offer local businesses support to accredit.

“Not only does accreditation model leadership on fair pay, it produces a positive ripple effect in the community as more people are pulled out of poverty wages.

“Cambridge City Council have been Living Wage Foundation accredited since 2014.”

Ms McWilliams said: “The ruling Liberal Democrats have refused to even raise the issue of accreditation, claiming there is a cost to the council in doing so and it is policy not to. The cost of accreditation? £480 + VAT per annum.

“And yet this council can find c. £70,000 per annum to pay two people to fight each other to advance the fortunes of two political parties.

“And paid for from residents’ council tax.”

Jobs adverts on council website

She added: “Are local councillors more concerned about clinging on to their own jobs, than they are about the welfare of those that elected them, and those employees on the lowest rung of the council pay scales?”

Applications for both political assistant posts are on the council website.

Anyone interested in applying will be told “strong networking skills are essential to enable you to play a central part in the effective preparation and delivery” of either the Lib Dem or Conservative future political strategy.

You will also need “acute political judgement, the ability to analyse data quickly, effective writing skills and good IT skills”.

 

 

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