Council to appoint new spin doctor on £91,000 salary

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A NEW top spin doctor is set to be recruited to the city council on a salary of £91,000, it emerged today.

Job adverts have been sent out for the newly-created job of head of policy and public affairs.

Council officials say that the successful applicant will play a “key leadership role” and help set a new “strategic direction” for the authority.

The large salary associated with the position is sure to cause concern amongst opposition politicians at a time when the council is lining up massive cuts to offset a £97 million black hole in its funding over the next three years.

One of the main duties of the new role will be to manage the council’s £2m-a-year communications team, which is responsible for day-to-day communications with the media, internal communications and also council publications such as Outlook, which has been dubbed “Edinburgh Pravda” because of its focus on positive aspects of the council.

Duties will also include heading up the council’s members services team, which deals with inquiries and administration relating to the city’s councillors, and overseeing how the council is progressing on targets relating to equalities, sustainability and performance.

They will also be responsible for links with outside bodies including the Scottish and UK Governments and private businesses.

City leaders insist that part of the new role will also be to try to help the council find further savings. Council leader Jenny Dawe said: “We recognise that leadership is the key to Edinburgh’s future success. This high-profile role is what we need at this time and that is reflected in the salary of around £90,000.

“By merging departments and senior management roles we are continuing to produce efficiency savings while, at the same time, putting in place a management structure equipped to produce the best results.”

The new post has been created by Alasdair Maclean, the senior council official who started in the new £132,000 role of director of corporate governance earlier this year.

It takes on some of the responsibilities within the head of performance, strategy and policy role held by David Jack until he retired last month.

He had spent much of this year in the role of acting director of corporate services before Mr Maclean’s appointment.

It is the latest stage in a major reshuffle of senior staff at the council, following the departure of long-serving directors Donald McGougan and Jim Inch, and former chief executive Tom Aitchison.

Mr Maclean said: “Yet again we are offering one of the best jobs in local government and we expect an exceptionally high calibre of applicants from all sectors.

“Edinburgh is an amazing place in which to live and work, but the unique challenges of this post will be make it a highly attractive proposition in its own right.

“We’re looking for a quick thinker, with excellent judgment, who is adept at building effective relationships to achieve positive outcomes.”