Senior Officers To Receive Permanent Pay Rise

Council Chamber at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

The Council’s Chief Officers are set to receive a £4,500 rise in their permanent salary following a vote by Councillors.

The pay rise means that the contentious Market Factor Supplements will effectively be absorbed into their pay packets, following legal advice from Cornwall Council’s legal team.

These supplements were first recommended two years ago and given to the Chief Executive and his management team in May 2010.

They were supposed to be reviewable on an annual basis but advice from Cornwall’s Head of Legal Affairs, Richard Williams, is that attempts to remove these payments now, without the officers’ consent, could be subject to challenge at a tribunal.

Last week’s debate on Council salaries was held behind closed doors and was poorly attended, because stormy weather meant only three Off-Island members were able to get there.

We understand the motion to approve the new salaries was the result of a job Evaluation exercise conducted by South West Councils’ Director, Russell Symons. He, like Mr Williams, attended the meeting.

Councillors voted by 5 votes to 4 for these payments to be absorbed into the officers’ pensionable salaries.

Five councillors, Marian Bennett, Ralph Banfield, David Pearson, Brian Lowen and Christine Savill voted for the salary change while four, Amanda Martin, Chris Thomas, Sheila Thomas and Richard McCarthy, asked for their votes against this latest pay move to be recorded in the minutes.

Councillor Dudley Mumford abstained.

 

Job-Sizing Exercise

 

We contacted all Councillors yesterday but they were reluctant to confirm or deny how they had voted, with several claiming this could lead to disciplinary procedures under the Council’s Code of Conduct.

One told us he was in favour of the pay rise as they “should have had this years ago and it was the sensible thing to do.” He said the pay evaluation was done “fairly and properly.”

Another stressed this wasn’t a pay rise, simply an “assimilation into existing salary.”

In a statement, Vice Chair of Council, Marian Bennett, says it wasn’t about performance-related pay but a “job-sizing exercise” to say what the particular posts are worth, “should they become vacant.”

Vice Chair of Council, Marian Bennett

From Radio Scilly

Listen to Marian Bennett’s Statement

She said the salary recommendations were “straight salaries” and do not include the market forces supplement although “interestingly,” says Marian, the pay rise equates almost exactly to the £4,500 market factor supplement.

In retrospect this was an “ill-advised way of bolstering pay levels to the correct level for the job,” she says, and there is “no market forces element in the new pay.”

Marian says Council Chair, Mike Hicks, who is currently ill, “supported the proposal 100%.”

However, she admits that the Council should have gone about the process of setting pay rates for the Chief Officers in a different way and says there are people in education and the primary health service on the islands who are paid more.

She says it’s been a difficult time for Officers and Members with all of them being subjected to abuse both face-to-face and through social media sites.

Marian says “it’s easier to go with the popular vote, but that isn’t always on the side of right.”

Consultation on the new pay arrangements will still need to take place with the Chief Officers.

If they agree their new salaries, it means that Chief Executive Philip Hygate will see his salary rise to £88,000 although this will be taken to over £100,000 when his pension is added. He was paid £15,000 less up until 2010.

His deputy, Neville Gardner, will get £76,000 and other Chief Officers, Peter Lawrence, Penny Penn-Howard and Craig Dryden, will see their salaries rise to £70,000.

The latter were on £59,000 two years ago.

Other Council staff have complained that these rises come at a time when their pay remains frozen.

 

Hygate Makes Taxpayers’ Alliance Rich List

 

Only today, the Taxpayers’ Alliance has published its list of council employees in the UK whose total annual remuneration exceeds £100,000.

The latest Town Hall Rich List shows Philip Hygate, the only Isles of Scilly Council employee on the list, receiving £104,854 including pension in the 2010-11 financial year, a rise of 15.4% on the previous year.

This contrasts with the Chief Executive of Melton District Council, with a population of 49,000, who earns £101,814 or the Chief Executive of North Dorset District Council, with a population of 67,900 on £107,634.

While Scilly is a unitary authority, the population is only 2,100.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said, “Taxpayers will be astonished that so many council employees are still getting such a generous deal while everyone else in the public sector is facing a pay freeze.

“The Town Hall Rich List shows that while councils insist cuts can only mean pressure on frontline services, some clearly have cash in the bank when it comes to paying their own senior staff. These council executives must ensure they have the moral authority to lead necessary spending cuts, in many cases that will mean taking a pay cut themselves.”

Mr Elliot added, “Households have seen their Council Tax bills double over the last decade and deserve better value.”

 



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