New boss will pocket handsome salary

ANDREA Hill is set to take over as head of Suffolk's largest employer later this year - with a controversial £220,000 salary.

ANDREA Hill is set to take over as head of Suffolk's largest employer later this year - with a controversial £220,000 salary.

The 44-year-old will become the second female chief executive of Suffolk County Council, and moves to Endeavour House from the doomed Bedfordshire County Council.

Before moving to Bedford, Mrs Hill was chief executive of Colchester Borough Council and she has held a number of senior local authority positions across the eastern counties.

She started her career as a management trainee at Thurrock council in Essex and worked at Cambridge City Council and North Hertfordshire council before moving to Colchester in 2001.

This is not the first time her salary has been controversial - while at Colchester she attracted criticism when her salary nudged £100,000 a year, at the time a very high figure for a borough council.

She defended her salary then, saying that her decisions had saved the council millions of pounds.

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She left Colchester for Bedfordshire and a £150,000 salary in 2004. At the time Bedfordshire was a county with problems which she was credited with addressing.

However her efforts were insufficient to prevent the council from falling victim to the government's review of local authorities.

Bedfordshire is due to be abolished, with its functions split between existing borough and district councils in the county.

Its final death knell was confirmed on Thursday although the county is still considering mounting a last-ditch appeal through the courts.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said the formalities of Mrs Hill's appointment had yet to be completed.

The spokesman said: "No offer has been made and the process is not complete."

MRS Hill's eye-watering salary of £220,000 a year will be more than £30,000 more than the £189,000 salary of the occupant of 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown.

It is nearly 50 per cent more than the £150,000 salary of her predecessor Mike More and considerably more than the £175,000 to £195,000 paid to neighbouring chief executive David White in Norfolk.

A national survey last spring showed there were five local authority employees in England earning more than £200,000 a year. The highest-earners were the heads of Kent, on £230,000 a year, and Wandsworth in London, on £227,000 a year.

Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers' Alliance said today: “At a time when Suffolk is facing a squeeze on many services, many people will find it very hard to understand how such a large rise from an already-generous £150,000 salary can be justified.

“That money could be far better spent on services that the county actually needs and wants.”

MRS Hill could end up with the dubious distinction of leading two major county councils into extinction.

Bedfordshire's death-knell was sounded this week when the government confirmed it would re-organise local authorities in the county just as she was having her interview for the job at Endeavour House.

And Suffolk's future is looking extremely doubtful.

The government is this year looking at proposals to re-draw council boundaries in Suffolk and Norfolk and there is a strong possibility this could see the end of two-tier local government in East Anglia.

That could end up with a unitary county council running all services in the county with the exception of greater Ipswich and Lowestoft - or it could see two unitary authorities in east and west Suffolk operating alongside an enlarged Ipswich borough council.

Whatever happens, it looks increasingly unlikely that Suffolk County Council will survive in its current form - and senior officers, including Mrs Hill, would have to reapply for jobs in the new successor authorities.

Do you think the county's chief executive salary is fair?

Name: Derek Jacobs

Age: 57

From: Kirton

It seems to be ok for the council to pay a fee which they determine between themselves but at the same time can't afford to pay workers a suitable rate. I heard from a friend that there have been redundancies in administrative roles.

Value is often hard to determine but nobody has any control over these remuneration costs.

Name: Laura Debnam

Age: 21

From: Sproughton

Can I apply?! It seems extortionate for the job they are required to do. A more realistic salary would be fairer. People with more deserving occupations should be given that sort of money.

Name: Rosalind Lavington

Age: 62

From: Sproughton

It's disgraceful. What purpose does it serve? The council already do everything to disrupt our services and now the chief executive is being paid even more for it.

Name: Myles Davies

Age: 25

From: Cemetery Road, Ipswich

The money would be better used for the NHS or fire service. Their striking was totally justified. Ipswich Hospital is full of scandal and they don't get enough support.

Council tax should be lowered if they can afford to pay people that much.

Name: Steven Jones

Age: 16

From: Martlesham Heath

To earn that much you need to be doing something worthwhile especially if we're paying for it.

The council should listen to us but they often just ignore that a lot of services need to be improved.