WREXHAM Council’s leader has hit back at criticism of a plan to take on a high powered £80,000-a-year transport supremo.

Cllr Aled Roberts has insisted the job WOULD be filled and that it would eventually save the council £1 million.

Since the Leader broke the news on Tuesday a row has broken out with harsh criticism from Wrexham MP Ian Lucas and the Leader’s website and letters page reaching boiling point over what is seen as a waste of public money in the same week that the Government hit the nation with the hardest budget since World War Two.

The council wants to take on a programme manager on an initial six-month contract to shake up the transport department which Cllr Roberts described as “a very important role”.

In a swipe at the Wrexham MP, Cllr Roberts said: “Mr Lucas can say what he likes about it, especially when you look at the number of posts taken on by the last government.

“The person appointed will have target savings that they have to deliver. Initially that will be four times their salary of £80,000 and eventually £1 million.”

Cllr Roberts said the appointment was part of the council’s transformation agenda and was enthusiastically approved when it came before the executive board.

“The person appointed will be responsible for restructuring and redefining the transporartion department.”

Cllr David Bithell, lead member for environment and transport, said: “This post has been advertised both internally and externally to deliver change within the Transport Department at Wrexham Council where currently transport fleet and transport services are based within two different departments.

“The review undertaken was to look at a more joined up approach to transport co-ordination by the way of a an integrated transport unit.

“A report was presented to members and the fundamental element of the report was to achieve savings on how best we operate all transport services, cut out any unnecessary waste and obtain value for money.

“The post holder will be responsible to ensure these savings in the region of £1 million are achieved. This does not mean we will be offering poorer services.

“I understand that given the current financial climate a new post of £80,000, although only temporary, does not sit well but to deliver these savings we need the right person with the necessary expertise.

“Given that we are looking to save in the region of £10m next year as part of the council’s budget process, we have also set up a transformation board, made up of members, officers and a representative from the trade unions looking how best to transform services but at the same time ensuring transparency with the trade unions and staff as well as trying to protect as many of our public services as possible.”