Sheffield City Region has defended a job advert which seeks someone to run mayor Dan Jarvis’ office for just over £55,000 a year.
The combined authority, which covers Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley, is looking for a ‘proactive, credible and authoritative voice on behalf of the mayor to edit, comment, decide and approve communications’.
The successful candidate will also be in charge of ‘considerable’ financial budgets and be a key adviser to the mayor.
But one opposition councillor has called the spending ‘outrageous’ and said the mayor should use political funds and not taxpayers’ money for such roles.
Mayor Jarvis, who is also MP for Barnsley Central, has little power to wield at present as the four South Yorkshire councils are at deadlock over the city region devolution deal.
The region has missed out on nearly £15 million worth of devolved cash from central government.
The authority is also looking for a communications officer paying £37,000 a year to mainly write speeches for Mayor Jarvis and to also handle media requests, run social media channels and write press releases.
SCR managing director Dave Smith defended the roles and said other devolved regions had these roles.
Sheffield Green party councillor Douglas Johnson said: “It’s outrageous but not unexpected that Labour’s regional mayor, who already has a political job as an MP, is getting the taxpayer to fund his speechwriter and spin doctor.
“Opposition councillors in Sheffield questioned this before the election, as the mayor gets no money until the devolution deal is done with Government. Whilst it was expected the Labour leaders in South Yorkshire would provide resources, it was made clear it would be ‘difficult’ if the mayor were from another party. It is another case of the Labour establishment keeping itself going off public money.
“Political activity should be paid for by political parties. In Sheffield, Green councillors have called for a reduction in spin and removing political posts from the Town Hall payroll.”
Dave Smith, managing director of the Sheffield City Region, said: “The post of Head of the Mayoral Office is an important role within the Sheffield City Region executive team.
“This role will provide the mayor, Dan Jarvis with the right level of support to deliver on his manifesto commitments to residents across the whole region.
“This is a role that is established in other mayoral combined authorities across the country. It’s important that we attract strong candidates to this role to enable the delivery and work of the mayoral combined authority.”