Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Move to Offer Council Chiefs Bumper Pay Rise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Move to Offer Council Chiefs Bumper Pay Rise

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan O'Donoghue Local Government Reporter

NEWCASTLE City Council's top brass are in line for potential pay rises totalling tens of thousands of pounds.

A confidential report seen by this newspaper has revealed plans to amend the pay scales of chief executive Pat Ritchie and four of the most senior council officers.

The move will be formally put to council members for consideration next month, but the proposal has caused outrage among councillors.

Ms Ritchie currently earns PS151,000 a year, but the council propose to amend her pay scale - meaning a potential pay bump of up to PS24,000.

Four council directors may also be in for a rise as a proposal to amend their pay scale from PS100,748-PS125,120 to a revised seven-point "payspine" of PS111,169-PS144,000 is considered.

The median salary across the council's salary range is PS23,935, and the lowest paid employees receive PS14,514 a year.

The council has justified hiking executive pay on the basis of an "increasing managerial challenge" to "take the organisation through a period of significant change".

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is absolutely astonishing. Newcastle residents haven't seen a single tax cut in the last two decades as the council pleads poverty, so to see their hardearned cash spent on extortionate pay rises for already highly-paid officials will be difficult to swallow. "When every council is having to find necessary savings and colleagues across the public sector have faced pay freezes or worse, how can council bosses possibly justify this reckless pay rise?" The council project that, at a minimum, the annual cost of the proposals would be PS16,578.

Councillor Anita Lower, the city's Liberal Democrat opposition leader, said her party would be speaking out against any such rise.

She said: "I think any change to the pay scales at this time is wrong - when we are dealing with such huge cuts, how can they justify this? "Council staff have been given a 1% rise and many are not on more than the living wage, so a rise at the top sends out the wrong message. …

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