Council chief Andrea’s �218k salary will not be reviewed

SUFFOLK: The controversial �218,000 salary of county council chief executive Andrea Hill is unlikely to fall foul of new rules on public servants’ pay, it emerged today.

That was the verdict of new Ipswich Conservative MP Ben Gummer as the government prepares stringent cost-cutting measures for the public sector.

Mr Gummer said Mrs Hill’s salary would be unlikely to be affected by new rules which state that all salaries higher than that of the Prime Minister would have to be approved by Whitehall.

He said: “The contract has already been signed and is in operation so we cannot revisit that – but there will be checks on future appointments.”

Mr Gummer was speaking after it emerged that up to 100 staff at the county are employed full-time on preparing statistics and reports for the Audit Commission.

It is estimated that the average salary of those involved in this work is more than �30,000 – meaning that the wage bill for preparing statistics for government monitors is more than �3 million a year.

Taxpayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliott said it should be possible for councils to be more open without employing 100 staff to carry out this work.

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He said: “This is a huge sum of money which is a very considerable burden for the taxpayers to have to bear.”

County council leader Jeremy Pembroke agreed with Mr Elliott’s stance, claiming the amount of work needed to monitor and scrutinise the council’s work remained a huge problem as it tries to provide services more efficiently.

He said: “That kind of figure shows you just how much time and effort we have to put into this kind of work – time and effort that would be better employed working for the people of Suffolk.

“There needs to be some accountability but it needs to be light-touch. The people of Suffolk have the chance to judge whether we’re doing a good job for them every four years.”

As council budgets came under pressure, he was hopeful that the new government would allow authorities to concentrate on providing services rather than monitoring what they were doing.

“I have been in touch with all Suffolk MPs to congratulate them on winning their seats, and we are hoping to meet them on a quarterly basis to work together for the county,” Mr Pembroke added.

He said there were six principles for the future working of the council:

n It should be more straightforward in operation.

n It should be easier for the public and employees to understand.

n It should be more customer focussed.

n It should be cheaper to run.

n It should be bolder, quicker, and more responsive.

n Staff should be empowered to make decisions rather than having to pass issues up the line.

n How would you improve the way councils work?

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