A CASH-strapped council is under fire for hiring a £30,000-a-year “youth voice co-ordinator”.
Scottish Borders Council says it needs to make the appointment to comply with a United Nations convention.
But critics called the post “trendy nonsense” and a “complete waste of money” at a time when the budget for educating local children is stretched.
The job, which pays up to £29,250, is to “provide young people aged 12-25 years with a collective voice”.
It will also “promote Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child”, according to the job description.
But Borders MSP John Lamont said: “When budgets in education are having to be stretched further and further, many people will consider the decision to hire a youth voice co-ordinator as a complete waste of money.
“We must ensure the best possible future for our children and this can be better achieved by hiring more teachers and improving facilities rather than hiring for frivolous roles such as this.”
Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education said: “Taxpayers will be incensed that their money is being wasted on trendy nonsense like this while seriously-needed services are being cut.”
And Eben Wilson of campaign group Taxper Scotland complained: “”What planet is this council living on? These are exactly the sort of costs that all councils need to cut away.
“Scottish taxpayers need relief from council tax and charges. These initiatives stop that happening.”
Applicants for the job need to have a degree-level qualification in youth work or a similar field.
They are also expected to have “substantial experience” in organising youth projects.
The job advert for the co-ordinator post says: “You will work as part of a small staff team to lead, design and deliver the aims of this new unit Scottish Borders Youth Voice…to provide young people aged 12-25 years with a collective voice on the matters that affect them.”
It continues: “The work of Scottish Borders Youth Voice promotes Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child – to give all children and young people the right to be listened to in the decisions that are made that affect their lives.”
A spokesman for the council said: “Scottish Borders Council, as an active partner in local community planning structures, has been committed to children and young people’s active participation in service planning and delivery for some years.”
The council said its new structure would replace five locally based youth participation workers with one 25-hour per week position, which would have administrative support.
The spokesman continued: “Scottish Borders Council refutes that the establishment of a more efficient process in which to engage with children and young people is either ‘trendy nonsense’ or ‘a complete waste of money’.
“Purposeful engagement with all sections of the Borders’ community is a pre-requisite to good service planning and delivery, particularly in the light of current and future budget challenges.
“Young people, particularly the most vulnerable, are often ignored in local planning and this relatively modest programme seeks to address this issue.
“I’m sure members of the Borders public appreciate the crucial role these projects play locally and nationally in the development of our young people.”