Salary package set to spark anger

SUFFOLK: As the county council starts its search for a new full-time chief executive, a storm was today mounting over the proposed salary package.

The county is looking at appointing a new chief on a basic salary of about �160,000 – but this could be boosted by a performance-related bonus.

And a call to The Evening Star revealed that officials looking at salary bands had found that �190,000 a year was the going rate for a county council chief.

The figures were immediately attacked by Suffolk MPs and the official opposition, whose deputy leader said there should be no place for bonuses in local authority work.

Chief executive pay has been at the top of the political agenda in Suffolk since Andrea Hill was appointed on a salary of �218,000 three years ago – �70,000 more than her predecessor Mike More.

Her refusal to take a pay cut despite coming under pressure from prime minister David Cameron and local government secretary Eric Pickles ensured it remained a burning issue.

The proposed salary for her successor was always going to be less – but the question posed in a telephone call to the Star yesterday shows that is not an issue that will go away.

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County council head of communications Simon Higgins said that the authority was considering a package of about �160,000 plus a bonus.

He said that the average salary for county council chief executives across the country was �190,000 and asked how our readers and the newspaper would react to that.

It was made clear that a figure of �190,000 would not be acceptable – and that �160,000 would also be regarded as very high.

The report containing the details of the recommendation was published later in the day.

A council spokesman said: “The report to the staff appointments committee is now available to the public on the council website.

“The recommendation of the report is clear that the spot salary should be �160,000 with an element of performance-related pay. �190,000 is not recommended or included for consideration in the report.”

New county council leader Mark Bee has made it clear that a new chief executive would earn considerably less than Mrs Hill ever since she left the authority at the beginning of this month.

But some of the county’s MPs have been insisting that her successor should not earn more than the prime minister, who takes home �142,500 a year.

n How much should the new chief executive be paid? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail