New report shows Darlington spends some of the lowest amounts on library services and some of the highest amounts on senior salaries in the country

front cover of reportAs Darlington Council prepares to close Crown Street Library, a new report reveals that the authority spends some the highest amounts per resident in the country on senior officer salaries – and some of the lowest amounts per resident on library services.

The report, ‘Labour’s Priorities for Darlington: Senior Salaries, not Libraries’, is being sent to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as part of an effort to request that the government ‘call in’ Darlington Council’s decision.

The author, Peter Cuthbertson – who helped prevent earlier efforts to close the town’s main library – takes local authority data from across the country to reveal:

Darlington Council already consistently ranks near the very bottom of over 130 local authorities in spending per resident on library services

  • 111 councils spent more per resident on libraries in 2014/15 than Darlington did (out of 132)
  • 126 councils spent more per resident in 2013/14 (out of 132)
  • 131 councils spent more per resident in 2012/13 (out of 137)

Despite very low spending per resident on library services, Darlington Council spends some of the highest amounts per resident in the country on senior officer salaries and perks

  • Darlington Council ranks 7th highest in the country (out of 145 councils) in how much it spends per resident on the Chief Executive.
  • Darlington Council spends £1.69 per resident on the Chief Executive compared to an average of £0.57 across England. The salary and employer pension contributions total £178,603.
  • Darlington Council ranks #1 highest in the country (out of 102 councils for which data is available) in how much it spends per resident on the Director of Public Health.
  • Darlington Council spends £1.05 per resident on the Director of Public Health compared to an average of £0.45 across England. The salary and employer pension contributions total £110,871.

With frontline services like libraries being cut, these inefficiencies in the back office – like sky-high senior salaries – also mean that Darlington residents are facing rocketing local taxes

  • Darlington Council have introduced the second highest council tax increases in the country since 2010 – more than 351 other local authorities.
  • Council tax since 2010 has risen almost three times as fast (14%) as the national average (5%). If Darlington Council had increased council tax by 5% rather than 14%, this would have saved the average household in Darlington £105 a year.

The author, Peter Cuthbertson, became involved in efforts to save Darlington Library last year, while standing as Conservative candidate to be the local Police Commissioner. Working with a number of local groups and after collecting petition signatures and speaking at public meetings, he ultimately found a top Public Law Barrister, Michael Imperato, to challenge in the courts Labour’s decision to close the library. When faced with a legal challenge, they delayed the decision until 2017. He also ran to be the MP for Darlington in 2015.