Five Fenland District Council officers and eight county council officers named on annual 'Town Hall Rich List'
As households in Fenland face higher council tax bills at the start of the new financial year its chief executive and four of its top officers have been named on the latest ‘Town Hall Rich List’.
Published by the TaxPayers’ Alliance – a national body which fights to reform taxes and public services, to cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers – the list outlines local government’s highest earners across the country.
In 2017-18 there were at least 2,454 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000. That’s 148 more than in 2016-17, and the highest number since 2013-14.
A total of 608 council employees nationally earned over £150,000 and that includes Cambridgeshire’s chief executive Gillian Beasley.
The list highlights 28 local authority employees who received remuneration in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in 2017-18. However, there were none of those in our area.
All this while about 21 per cent of children in Fenland are living in poverty, according to a report published last year, and the average full-time wage is just £26,100 a year, but many people in this area are on zero hours contracts earning the minimum wag, which was £7.38 in 2018.
Although Fenland District Council did not put their share up this year, bills still rose by an average of £62.50 thanks to the county council, with a further £2 rise for the county’s policing.
Fenland’s chief executive Paul Medd earned £140,366 with an additional £2,000 in benefits last year – that’s nearly as much as Prime Minister Teresa May. Four of his management team earned well over £80,000 each.
These included Carol Pilson, the council’s monitoring officer, who took home £83,673, plus a further £8,293.
The chief finance officer, Kamal Mehta, earned £78,948 plus £7,863 and two corporate directors, Gary Garford and Richard Cassidy, both earned £84,336 with £8,400 on top.
Fenland Council leader Coun Chris Seaton, who has held the position for just 12 months, said all the officers were in post when he took over the leadership.
He argued that as Fenland has signed up to a national agreement on chief officers’ pay they had no choice but to pay the going amount, but pointed out Mr Medd’s salary is a lot less than predecessor, Tim Pilsbury’s.
He said Mr Medd was appointed at a lower wage and has not had any annual increments, other than the set national annual wage rise, since.
He also argued it is necessary to pay the high wages in order to secure the ‘right’ people for the job.
And he pointed out the council’s finances are in “good shape”.
At Cambridgeshire County Council there are eight officers earning over £100,000 a year and one slightly below at £97,626.
The second highest earner after Mrs Beasley, who earns £157,500, is the council’s deputy chief executive and chief finance officer, who picked up £143,925.
One undisclosed officer earned £122,500 and the director of public health took home £101,946.
But council leader Coun Steve Count was quick to point out at county level these staffing costs are halved, in all but one case (finance officer), as the authority shares its chief officers
with Peterborough City Council.
He said Mrs Beasley was earning the same salary when she was responsible for Peterborough alone as she earns now with the two authorities.
Coun Count says Cambridgeshire has far more staff than the district council, employing over 6,000 people. It also has a budget of between £500million and £750million, compared to just £12m at district level.
“I can’t change the world, but I can try to change our bit at Cambridgeshire County Council, and we have done that by halving those costs by sharing our officers – that is a massive step forward,” he said.