New chief exec joins 200k elite

ANDREA Hill today joins a select band of council staff earning in excess of £200,000 a year after being controversially appointed chief executive of Suffolk.

Neil Puffett

ANDREA Hill today joins a select band of council staff who earn in excess of £200,000 a year after she was controversially appointed chief executive of Suffolk.

Members of the council gathered yesterday afternoon at the council's Endeavour House headquarters for a vote on whether the former Bedfordshire County Council chief exec should get the top job in Suffolk.

Conservative councillors from the council's administration won over the day with 37 votes to 31 with one abstention.

Figures obtained by the Tax Payers' Alliance under the Freedom of Information Act today revealed that she will join six other chief executives on more than £200,000.

The vote to appoint her followed a call to reconsider the proposal over concerns about the way in which the appointment was made.

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That motion was defeated by 37 votes to 31 with one abstention.

Controversy was sparked after it emerged Mrs Hill would be offered up to £220,000 to take the job, around £70,000 more than current chief executive Mike More and £30,000 more than Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Jeremy Pembroke, Conservative leader of the council, speaking during the meeting, said the decision was a correct one and he was prepared to lose his seat over the appointment of Mrs Hill.

Speaking afterwards he said: “I'm delighted that the council has approved the appointment of Andrea Hill.

“She has a first class record in local government and will be vital to driving through the improvements to Suffolk's infrastructure that will bring top quality services to the people of Suffolk.”

He also criticised political opponents for comments made in the run up to the debate.

Mr Pembroke said: “It is extremely disappointing that while we are engaged in the serious work of building a strong future for the county, Labour are engaged in the worst kind of hypocrisy and deceit.

“They can behave how they like in the council chamber, but to attempt to deceive the people of Suffolk in this way is unforgivable.”

Kathy Pollard leader of the council's Liberal Democrat group said she was one of the people voting against the appointment.

She said: "My group and I voted against the ratification of this appointment.

“We have nothing against the candidate, but how can the Conservatives say they are guardians of the public purse and spend this kind of money on an appointment which is time limited?

“As I have previously said I believe that if they couldn't have obtained a suitable candidate at the previously advertised salary then they should have appointed an interim chief executive.

“Suffolk County Council has a very good reputation nationally so it should not be difficult to attract the right person.

“The public are rightly outraged at this salary.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said starting date for Mrs Hill will now be agreed between Suffolk and her current employer, Bedfordshire County Council.

Current chief executive at Suffolk County Council, Mike More, is due to officially leave the post on April 6.

What do you make of the appointment? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

TOP 10 best paid Town Hall officials from 2006-7, according to figures compiled by the TaxPayers' Alliance:

1 Northamptonshire: Peter Gould, chief executive, £215,000 (includes benefits of £641.77)

2 City of Kingston upon Hull: Kim Ryley, chief executive, £213,162 (includes mileage of £1,557, subsistence of £2,466; election fee of £4,450, arrears for pay award of £10,888 and performance related pay of £9,000)

3 Kensington and Chelsea: Derek Myers, Town Clerk and chief executive, £205,000

4 Northampton: Mairi Mclean, chief executive, £205,000 (includes undisclosed severance package, essential car user allowance of £511.50 and travel and subsistence of £19.25)

5 Bexley: Nick Johnson, chief executive £203,000 (includes bonus of £8,000, benefits and election duties of £11,000)

6 Hertfordshire: Caroline Tapster, chief executive £201,485 (includes expenses of £1,144.95)

7 Ealing: Darra Singh, chief executive £195,456 (started 04/07/2005)

8 Surrey: Dr Richard Shaw, chief executive £ 195,330

9 Cambridgeshire: Ian Stewart, chief executive £195,000

10 Westminster: Peter Rogers, chief executive £195,000 (includes performance related pay of £35-40,000)