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Council must ‘pay to attract right people’

Four top officers at Cheshire East Council earned more than £100,000 – including one interim staff member who was paid £112,404 for six months’ work.

If pension and other benefits are included, eight individual staff members cost the council more than £100,000 between April 2021 and March 2022, (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).

Figures released by the TaxPayers’ Alliance for this period – which are also published in the accounts on the council’s website – show chief executive Dr Lorraine O’Donnell was the top annual earner on £180,083, is up nearly £25,000 from the previous year, when she earned £155,175.

The increase is because the chief executive, who is also returning officer, received an extra £33,382, in fees and pension contributions, for overseeing the police and crime commissioner elections as well as parish and borough council by-elections held between April 2021 and March 2022.

The total amount Cheshire East paid for its chief exec over the year – including pension contributions – amounted to £241,131. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earns £164,951.
Next on Cheshire East’s list was Jane Burns, executive director of corporate services, who earned £119,955.

Monitoring officer David Brown, the director of governance and compliance, earned £103,092.

The council paid an additional £40,665 in pension contributions for the executive director of corporate services and £34,948 for the monitoring officer.

Dr O’Donnell said: “It is important to recognise that Cheshire East, like other local authorities, pays the necessary market rate to attract the right people with the necessary skills and experience.

”Following restructure, senior managers have also taken on much wider responsibilities, while continuing to deliver frontline services and value for money for residents during a period of really significant challenges.

“Not the least of these has been emerging from the covid-19 pandemic to face major inflationary pressures on council budgets and rising demand for services for our most vulnerable residents.”

Cheshire East also paid out £112,404 for an interim director of children’s services, who was in post until September 2021, a period of six months.

A council spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The council required specialist expertise in children’s services, following a restructure to better meet the demands of adults and children’s services, while recruitment was under way.

“This was for a short, planned period and was accommodated within the existing overall senior management budget.”

According to the Alliance’s “town hall rich list” the number of officials nationwide receiving more than £100,000 was 2,759, of which 721 received more than £150,000.

Of the 10 local authorities with the most employees receiving more than £100,000, eight were in London.

The figures showed the managing director of Guildford Council received the highest remuneration of any council employee in the country, raking in £607,633 in total remuneration, including a £107,195 salary, £339,158 pension contribution and £5,688 in benefits.

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