Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Pay Rises for Link4Life Bosses Who Sacked Staff

Rochdale's Touchstone Challenge Protest Group leader: 'Absolutely Furious!'

CRAIG McAteer, Link4Life managing director, and his deputy, Peter Kilkenny, have had a pay rise of around £20,000 apiece: we can't be precise because we're not dealing with straight-forward folk. Chris Jones, in an exclusive story for the Rochdale Observer (28/01/2012) writes: 'Linki4Life's official financial records for the year ending March 2011 show Mr McAteer's wage jumped from the £100,000 to £110,000 bracket to the £130,000 to £140,000 pay band.' Mr Kilkenny's pay may well have risen from about '£80,000 to £90,000' to the region of '£110,000 to £120,000' according to the Observer.

Link4Life now claim that the records were 'submitted to Companies House incorrectly and include additional employer costs from pension contributions as well as their monthly wage.' But the Rochdale Observer claims: 'even when these figures are taken out' the figures show 'Mr McAteer's wages still rise from the £100,000 to £110,000 band to the higher £110,000 to £120,000 band.' The reason for all this guess-work is that both Mr McAteer and Mr Kilkenny are refusing to come clean about exactly how much they are on. These benefits for the bosses of Link4Life follow on from a series of sackings by them of staff, and cuts in cultural services at Touchstones Museum and Art Gallery. Debbie Firth, the co-ordinator of Touchstone Challenge - a group promoting the arts in Rochdale - told Northern Voices: 'I was absolutely furious when I read that Link4Life Managing Director (Craig McAteer) and his deputy (Peter Kilkenny) have between them received up to £30,000 in pay rises at a time when they are cutting jobs and services within arts and heritage in Rochdale.' When Debbie Firth, a young local mother, first helped set up the Touchstone Challenge group in May last year, she shortly after received an email from a firm of Leeds' solicitors, acting on behalf of the Link4Life bosses, warning her that the group was threatening the business prospects of Link4Life.

Commenting on the present situation, Milnrow Councillor Andy Kelly, who ferreted-out the wage figures for the Observer story, said: 'I am sure that the vast majority of people in this borough think this to be simply ridiculous (and) I have written to the local government minister Eric Pickles asking him to request the district auditor undertake a review of the situation.'

Another founder member of the Touchstone Challenge group, Trevor Hoyle, wrote in the Rochdale Observer last Saturday, complaining of the 'cavalier attitude' of Mr McAteer and Mr Kilkenny. Mr Hoyle wrote: 'It comes as no surprise to those of us who have kept a close eye on the management style of Link4Life that the two top directors have pocketed up to a £20,000 pay rise last year, while sacking staff and imposing a wage freeze on those earning less in a year than their annual pay rise'.

While these Link4Life bosses keep their traps shut about their own pay conditions, they are, in fact, employed by a charitable trust appointed by the local Council, and their salaries plus any pay rises are, according to Mr Hoyle, 'in large part paid for by the rate-payers of Rochdale'. These Link4Life bosses shelter behind a lack of public scrutiny and it is for people like Brian Ashworth, chairman of the Link4Life trustees, to enlighten the public instead of rushing to present the case for the defence.

Northern Voices 13 (48 pages plus cover); with a story from Touchstone Challenge leader, Debbie Firth, will be on sale at the end of this month: Postal subscription for Northern Voices is £5 for the next two issues (post & packing included). Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' to C/o. 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH. Tel; 0161 793 5122. Email: northernvoices@hotmail.com


Anonymous said...

This time the Link4Life bosses (see Rochdale Observer 11/02/12)failed to threaten to send for their solicitors after the attack on the claim that the Board of Trustees had awarded some substantial pay rises to the Managing Director and his Deputy in the Rochdale Observer. Instead, they insisted that the Observer journalist, Chris Jones, didn't 'let the facts get in the way of a good story' and urged that: 'we should be immensely proud of what Link4Life has achieved in our community to date and concentrate on all the positive work we (link4Life) undertake ... to deliver a much improved cultural offer in our Borough.'

Anonymous said...

So has there been any further updates about the news. Are the accounts and pay correct or not, or did someone get it wrong!

Did the members of the Save Touchstones group get their facts wrong?