‘They should be knocking 20% OFF council tax!’ Furious locals in four-day week local authority which has hiked bills shares images of roads littered with potholes and complain of missed bin collections
- Councillor Bridget Smith was attacked for dismissing performance concerns
Frustrated taxpayers have slammed a town hall for introducing a four-day week for their staff while hiking council tax.
South Cambridgeshire District Council has become the first in the country to give employees an extra day off.
But ratepayers were less than impressed, with several taking to social media to demand to have their bills reduced.
‘Council tax reduction by 20% then,’ one wrote.
Others complained about the state of local services, sharing images of roads littered with potholes and complaining of missed bin collections.
South Cambridgeshire District Council has become the first in the country to give employees and extra day off
Locals were less than impressed, with many taking to social media to complain about the state of local services and demand to have their bills reduced
Council leader Bridget Smith has been attacked for dismissing concerns about performance at South Cambridgeshire District Council as being ‘minor issues’.
She’s faced questions after appearing to admit the four-day working week experiment had been introduced for the benefit of its top official’s secret PhD project on the topic.
Where did the five-day week come from?
Prior to the Great Depression, the first example of a five-day week was seen in 1908.
A mill in New England, US, allowed a two-day weekend so that Jewish workers could observe the Sabbath on Saturdays. Sunday was already a work-free day due to its holy status in Christianity.
In 1926, carmaker Henry Ford gave his staff both days off, and created a 40-hour week for employees.
By 1932, the US had officially adopted the five-day week, to tackle unemployment created by the Great Depression.
The UK followed suit in 1933, when John Boot, from Boots corporation, closed factories on Saturdays and Sundays, and made it the company’s official policy the next year.
Yet councillors voted through a year-long extension of the policy to let all of the authority’s desk-based staff work 80 per cent of their contracted hours without loss of pay.
Lib Dem Ms Smith told a council meeting: ‘The day off a week is a gift. It’s the gift of being able to work smarter, much more intensively and get the job done in that four-day period.’
She insisted the first three-month pilot of the four-day week had benefited the council, its staff and residents.
And she dismissed complaints that it was taking officers longer to answer phones or deal with planning applications. But Conservative group leader, councillor Heather Williams, told her: ‘Agency workers are still working five days and only 61 per cent of officers on the trial claim they can do their work within four days.’
She went on: ‘Bear in mind, we’ve put up council tax here. put up social rents, garages, everything you can think of and some people are taking on second jobs working all the hours God sends to make ends meet and then see this council giving everybody a day off.
‘So is all this worth it for the taxpayer? Or are they right to feel let down and insulted?’
Fellow Tory councillor Richard Williams said he was ‘shocked’ to hear the failure to meet key targets described as ‘minor issues’.
He added: ‘If you apply for housing benefit and it takes twice as long to process your claim as before, it’s not a really minor issue.’
He also challenged her about her comment on radio over the revelation that chief executive Liz Watts has been working on a doctorate on the four-day week without revealing it.
The announcement coincided with other locals sharing images of roads littered with potholes and complaining of missed bin collections
Mr Williams said: ‘I think the leader needs to explain that.’
But Ms Smith replied: ‘So in a word, the answer’s no.’
Local Tory MP Anthony Browne said: ‘This proves beyond doubt that residents are not being served by the council but used as guinea pigs.’
South Cambridgeshire District Council increased council tax by the maximum permitted 3.1 per cent earlier this year, Analysis by the TaxPayers’ Alliance has found that it has increased its council tax by 142 per cent in the past 30 years.
The pressure group said: ‘This is the second most in England, with only Huntingdonshire higher.’
Chief executive Liz Watts was accused of working on a doctorate on the four-day week
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