Tory grandees backed £220,000 salary

THREE top Tories voted to give the job of Suffolk chief executive to Andrea Hill - in the face of opposition from Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the selection board, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Neil Puffett

THREE top Tories voted to give the job of Suffolk chief executive to Andrea Hill - in the face of opposition from Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the selection board, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The Conservatives on the five-strong board backed her appointment at a salary of up to £220,000 a year, £30,000 more than is earned by the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the Labour and Liberal Democrat interviewers opposed offering a salary of more than £176,000 a year.


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Labour group leader Julian Swainson then voted against her appointment, describing the top salary as “obscene.”

A storm of protest has greeted the appointment of Mrs Hill since it was first revealed by The Evening Star on Monday.

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Mrs Hill's arrival at Endeavour House was confirmed after she was interviewed by the five-councillor panel last Thursday.

And officials and councillors from Bedfordshire have told their Suffolk colleagues that they are in for an “interesting” period over the next few months and years.

One opposition councillor from Bedfordshire said: “Suffolk's gain is Bedfordshire's gain!

“Mrs Hill is a truly exceptional change manager. During her time here she has transformed the county from a no-star authority to a three-star authority, but she is certainly someone who wants things done her way.

“She is not the kind of chief executive who just does what she is told by the councillors. She leads from the front and, I have found, she has a confrontational streak.”

Officials from Ipswich council, across the road from the county's headquarters, have already talked about “dusting off the tin hats” prior to Mrs Hill's arrival.

Mr Swainson said the decision to pay the chief executive up to £220,000 - at least £20,000 more than current chief Mike More will be paid after his “promotion” to become head of Westminster City Council - could not be

justified.

He said: “When you consider what Mike was paid, and he is an exceptional chief executive, it is obsene to pay this much more. I voted against increasing the higher level to £220,000 - as did Kathy Pollard.”

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke was one of three Conservatives on the panel which appointed Mrs Hill. He said it was wrong to say she would be earning £220,000.

He said: “Her salary will be in the band of £154,000 to £220,000. We will not say any more than that.

“When you are looking for the best people you have to be able to pay the price. When we started looking for a new chief executive people from outside the county council said we had to go for the best person - whatever the cost.

“I don't know what Mike More will be getting at Westminster. Our concern was to get the best person for Suffolk - and to pay whatever we have to for that.”

Mrs Pollard could see no sense in appointing any chief executive with the future of the authority being in the balance.

She said: “We wonder about the wisdom of appointing a permanent chief executive at the present time and whether a temporary appointment would have been more sensible.

“The salary given to this role is obviously concerning. People are telling us that they are outraged by this salary and it is a major talking point, not just in Suffolk but elsewhere in the region.

“Now the Conservatives must justify both this appointment and especially the salary level.”

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