£100k pay packerts for council top earners

FOUR senior positions at South Tyneside Council are paid six-figure salaries – including the Chief Executive who earns almost £130,000-a-year.

The pay package of Irene Lucas, the most senior officer of the council, was published in a report from the Taxpayers Alliance, who obtained the figure using the Freedom of Information Act.

It revealed that 800 town hall officers across the UK earned more than 100,000 a year.

Ms Lucas was paid 129,135, including benefits, during the 2006/07 financial year, an increase of 2.9 per cent on her salary the previous year, of 125,439.

The average increase for high-salaried council executives on the list was 4.6 per cent.

One other officer of the council was paid more than 100,000 in the previous financial year, according to the Alliance's figures, but the council declined to release his or her name to the group.

However, a spokesman has since confirmed to the Gazette it was former executive director for children and young people Kim Bromley-Derry, who earned 100,872 in 2006/07. The payscale for executive directors at the council, of which there are three, is now 99,458 – 109,403.

Their total remuneration includes salary, bonuses, benefits-in-kind, any relevant returning officer payments, car allowances, private medical insurance and redundancy payments.

Spokesman for the Taxpayers' Alliance Mark Wallace, said: "A lot of people will be shocked to find that while many local families are on low incomes and pensioners struggle to make ends meet, the chief executive of South Tyneside Council can be paid this salary.

"Councils often claim that they need to offer these wages to secure the very best employees. But her salary is just a few thousand pounds short of a Cabinet Minister. Is her job really as complex and taxing as say the Foreign Secretary?"

Cabinet ministers such as South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary David Miliband are paid a basic salary of 137,579. However, Ms Lucas' salary is far lower than her local counterparts.

Ged Fitzgerald, chief executive of Sunderland City Council was paid 174,000 in 2006/07, and Mark Henderson, the chief executive of Northumberland County Council, received almost 150,000 in the same period.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: "Information about salaries of senior officers was supplied to the Taxpayers' Alliance and we are happy to provide that information to local council tax payers. The chief executive has always disclosed her pay; the other salary highlighted in the report is that of Kim Bromley-Derry our former executive director for children and young people.

"We are a high performing and much improved council. We challenge all our spending to ensure we deliver value for money for our residents."

Six people in town halls across Britain earn more than 200,000 a year, while 88 earn more than 150,000. Fourteen earn more than the Prime Minister, who pulls in 188,849.