YOU pay £765 a day to teach council staff good manners

PUBLISHED: 07:35 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:34 24 May 2010

NORTH Somerset Council has been slammed after it was revealed a council director is costing taxpayers £765 a day to teach staff how to speak to people on the phone and deal with customers

NORTH Somerset Council has been slammed after it was revealed a council director is costing taxpayers £765 a day to teach staff how to speak to people on the phone and deal with customers.The appointment is to run the council's £3.9million Customer Access Programme (CAP) that aims to deal with people's enquiries quicker and easier.The three-year scheme, which started last summer, will see a new council website where people can pay their council tax, more internet points and council staff placed in community centres throughout North Somerset.CAP director Andrew Devin has been contracted through a recruitment agency to work on the project for six months.Councillors have slammed the appointment that will cost the council £125,000 over the period.Councillor Mike Roe said the salary demonstrated a cavalier use of taxpayers money.He said: "It's amazing that he's getting paid that much. It's even more than the council's chief executive is getting."I can't understand what skills he is going to bring to the council on this amount of money."The council has spent £80,000 on new computer equipment and has five full-time and three part-time members of staff working on the CAP.The council plans to bring in more experts for a six-week period to set up a new computer system to deal with enquiries.Government funding accounts for £1.1million of the total £3.9 million cost of the project.A spokesman for North Somerset Council said: "The Customer Access Programme director is an important role, providing leadership and direction to a programme which will bring about significant improvements in the way the council responds to its customers, whether face-to-face, on the telephone or over the web. "He will report directly to the chief executive officer who has overall responsibility for the programme. He does not however have director status in terms of the role being part of the Corporate Management Team."This rate of £765 is the market rate for the skills and experience necessary for this short term assignment.

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