Wages of councils’ high earners in the spotlight

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THE Taxpayer’s Alliance and an independent councillor in Bury St Edmunds have welcomed moves to make the levels of pay awarded to high earning council staff more transparent.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles outlined plans this week that would see council committees, open to the press and public, meet to decide the pay of any staff member if it exceeds £100,000.

St Edmundsbury borough councillor David Nettleton said the proposal did not go far enough.

He said: “I am all for what he is proposing although I would probably have a cap on levels of pay as well, so if you pay over, say £90,000, the local authority will have to pay a contribution to the Government as well.”

Councils were required to publish details of staff earning more than £50,000 last summer. The borough council’s chief executive Geoff Rivers earns £122,940. He was the only one to top the £100,000 mark.

By comparison, Andrea Hill, his counterpart at Suffolk County Council, earns £218,000 a year.

A spokeswoman for The Taxpayers’ Alliance said the Government proposal would ‘help increase transparency and accountability,’

But she rejected the idea of a cap, arguing that public scrutiny would act as a ‘natural cap’.

“The Tax Payers will not tolerate excessive pay,” she said.

Meanwhile, the borough council is looking for members of the public to join a panel that sets allowances for councillors. The deadline for applications is March 4. Anyone interested should contact Steven Lincoln on 01284 757108.