Salary increase of 17% for Ipswich council chief given green light

Ipswich Borough Council chief executive Russell Williams Picture: DAVID GARRAD

Ipswich Borough Council chief executive Russell Williams Picture: DAVID GARRAD

A 17% pay rise for Ipswich Borough Council’s chief executive has been approved this evening.

The council’s three party leaders were part of a panel which helped draw up the pay scales, which will mean chief executive Russell Williams will have a salary of £117,000-£123,000 a year – up from the £99,000 he is currently on.

Meanwhile, Helen Pluck, chief operating officer, will receive a salary just shy of £93,000 instead of the £83,000 currently.

The proposals were drawn up earlier in the spring, but at this evening’s full council meeting the increases were unanimously approved.

Labour councillor Martin Cook, the borough council’s portfolio holder for resources, pointed to Mr Williams’ voluntary decision for freeze his pay since 2013 and the need for a competitive pay package compared to other authorities as being key to retaining and recruiting staff.

Councillor Erion Xhaferaj, Conservative, said that it was a difficult subject when councils were being required to save money, and admitted it “tends to create divisions”.

He added: “It is through good management that savings can be brought about while continuing to provide a good service.

“Certainly Ipswich Borough Council is one of the lowest paid in Suffolk, even among comparative authorities to ours in population.

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“We need to think strategically and future-proof ourselves.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Inga Lockington said that based on the current salary if the chief executive left the council “probably couldn’t get others at that pay grade”.

The pay will be backdated to April.

Conservative group leader Ian Fisher, who backed the increase, said it was important to recognise the reservations members of the public had about large pay increases, and proposed for the salary increase to take effect from October 1, rather than backdated to April, with the funds saved being put into the area committee budgets for community projects.

However, council leader David Ellesmere said it needed to be recognised that work over the summer prioritising community concerns in the wake of the Tavis Spencer-Aitkens killing meant the issue could only now be discussed.

Aside from Suffolk County Council, Mr Williams remains the only chief executive in Suffolk for only a single council, but this is because of the wholly urban makeup of Ipswich compared to other authorities which share a chief executive.

How Suffolk authorities compare

Stephen Baker (Suffolk Coastal and Waveney) – £130,634pa

Arthur Charvonia (Babergh and Mid Suffolk) – £115,000-120,000pa

Ian Gallin (St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath) – £130,000-142,000pa