Warnings over salaries of county chiefs

SUFFOLK will be among a list of authorities warned of government concerns relating to over-the-odds salaries for chief executives, it emerged today.

SUFFOLK will be among a list of authorities warned of government concerns relating to over-the-odds salaries for chief executives, it emerged today.

It is understood John Healey, the local government minister, has written to bosses at the Local Government Association (LGA) raising concerns that pay packets for local government officials are out of control.

Advice given in the letter is likely to be passed on to authorities across the land including Suffolk County Council, which prompted widespread outcry earlier this year when it appointed chief executive Andrea Hill on a salary of £218,000.

According to reports Mr Healey reveals in the letter he is growing “increasingly concerned” about the level of pay for senior local government officers.

He adds that he feels the hikes in salary can “legitimately be viewed by council taxpayers' as excessive”.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole, a Labour colleague of Mr Healey, said ministers and government in general remain concerned that rapidly spiralling salaries send out the wrong message at a time of economic turmoil.

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He added that the Local Government Association would likely pass on Mr Healey's concerns to authorities across the country.

“They (the LGA) can't do anything directly as they don't have responsibility for negotiating individual chief executive salaries.

“But they are a legitimate channel of communication which ministers use when they want to send a message to councils to think carefully about the inflationary impact of chief executive pay at a time when pay restraint is being urged.”

It has emerged that the highest paid council boss in Britain is Joe Duckworth, chief executive at Newham Council, who earns £240,000 a year, around £20,000 more than Andrea Hill.

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