Thursday, 1 April 2010

Town Hall Rich List: A view from Hull & East Riding

Today sees the publication of the TPA’s new Town Hall Rich List. When you look at the list, you will see that although many of us are having to endure pay freezes and pay reductions, some senior council officers are living in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Here in Hull and the East Riding, it is a tale of two councils. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Hull City Council has reduced the number of senior officers and mangers at the Guildhall. In 2009/10 (not covered in our report), a new chief executive was hired on a salary 25% lower than the previous incumbent, and the post of deputy chief executive was axed too. There is still more work to do, but Hull City Council is heading in the right direction, cutting costs and getting a better deal for the taxpayer.

In the East Riding of Yorkshire, life is very much different. Recession? What recession? As previously reported, some senior officers received massive, inflation busting pay rises in 2008/9 in order to retain their services. Two have since taken early retirement, with the enhanced pensions the pay rises gave them. A third, Sue Lockwood, will probably have a whopping  £364K paid into her pension fund because she wishes to take early retirement too. Her total remuneration for 2008/9 was £135,646; a 17.2% increase on the previous year. The chief executive, Nigel Pearson, also saw his pay increase by 10% to £176,374.

There has also been a knock-on effect. Some employees immediately below director level have seen their pay move into six figures. I fully expect more to reach this ‘milestone’ in 2009/10.

When a chief executive is paid not far short of the prime minister’s salary, and council directors are getting what a cabinet minister earns, something is deeply wrong. Hull City Council has shown it is possible to reduce senior officers’ pay. East Riding of Yorkshire Council doesn’t seem to care, but the voters do and they are sick and tired of seeing their hard earned cash subsidising high salaries and gold-plated pensions for senior council employees. The local elections next year could be very interesting indeed.

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