Walsall Council bosses to pocket £750k after councillors back pay rise

Bosses at cash-strapped Walsall Council will pocket nearly £750,000 next year after a pay rise for its top brass was given the go-ahead.

walsall council house
Walsall councillors have agreed to support a pay rise for council bosses

Councillors approved the local authority’s latest pay policy, which will see executives’ pay increase by one per cent for the 2017/18 financial year. It comes at a time when the authority needs to save £86 million in four years and is set to cut hundreds of staff and services.

Following the increase, agreed by the full council on Monday night, chief executive Paul Sheehan will earn £196,214.

Other salaries include £118,358 for an executive director and £90,550 for an assistant director.

Other assistant directors will earn £87,527, £84,510, £81,491 and £78,476. The average salary at the council is £22,434.

In total the six directors and one chief executive will pocket £737,126 for the financial year.

The new salaries have been described as ‘exorbitant’ by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

John O’Connell, the alliance’s chief executive, said: “Taxpayers will rightly want answers as to how these exorbitant salaries can be justified when the public finances are under such strain.

“Savings need to be found across the public sector so there must be scrutiny on all spending including top brass pay and perks. The council needs to demonstrate that these salaries represent value for money for local taxpayers because they pay their council tax to fund essential front line services, not inflate the pay of town hall bosses.”

Councillor Mike Bird, leader of the Conservative group, described the salaries, especially that of the chief executive, as the ‘going rate’, adding: “People might not like it but it is a fact.”

Labour leader, councillor Sean Coughlan, agreed. These figures do not include money paid out to big-hitting interim managers at the council, with executive director for change and governance Julie Alderson earning up to £1,000 a day for her four day a week 12-month contract.

Transformation manager Lucy Trueman is being paid £75,000 for six months work.

Ms Alderson is scheduled to work until November, having started last month, while Ms Trueman’s contract is due to end in April.

Councillor Bird, who described Ms Alderson’s appointment as ‘obscene’ back in November, told Monday’s meeting that he thought the post could have been filled internally.

But councillor Coughlan hit back, saying: “I honestly believe that we could not carry on trying to make major changes to this council without somebody in that role.”

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